Promising Englishman Bailey Gill has been given an invitation to play in the Betfred British Masters at Close House later this month by tournament host Lee Westwood.
Gill hails from Worksop, the same Nottinghamshire town where former World Number One Westwood grew up, and his mother Vicky was in the same school class as the Ryder Cup legend.
The 23 year old competed in the Lee Westwood Junior Open as a teenager and he is a member of Lindrick Golf Club on the outskirts of Worksop where Westwood, Close House’s Touring Professional, retains membership. The club, which hosted the 1957 Ryder Cup, also counts Westwood’s fellow European Tour professionals Matthew Fitzpatrick, Mark Foster, Jonathan Thomson and Danny Willett amongst its membership.
Gill represented England as an amateur and after turning professional at the end of last year, he is keen follow in footsteps of those four players and 25-time European Tour winner Westwood by competing at the highest level of the game in Europe. He has already taken his first step on that journey by clinching his maiden professional victory in February’s Ghala Open, in Oman, on the MENA Tour.
The victory earned him a European Tour debut the Oman Open at Al Mouj Golf, in Muscat, later that month, where he played two rounds alongside European Tour winner Graeme Storm and American Sean Crocker, missing the cut by three shots after rounds of 77 and 70.
Gill is now looking forward to his second taste of European Tour action at Close House, this time behind closed doors, after the 2020 season was suspended for more than three months due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Lee is a legend in the game and I would like to say a big thank you to him for the invite,” said Gill. “This is an unbelievable opportunity for me, but it also underlines the class of the man.
“He’s always giving back and supporting our home town whether it’s sponsoring the shirts at Worksop Town Football Club or donating to the flood appeal.
“Lee’s consistency at the very top level of the game for decades is an inspiration to us all. I’ve still got the ball he signed for me after playing in the Lee Westwood Junior Open at Worksop Golf Club as a lad.
“I went up to watch Lee and Mark Foster at the British Masters at Close House three years ago. It was a brilliant course and a great atmosphere. Sir Graham Wylie and his team deserve huge credit for their work in making Close House a Championship venue. It’s a shame this year’s event is behind closed doors but safeguarding public health is what matters most.
“I made my European Tour debut in Oman just before the Covid pandemic and I’m delighted my next opportunity has come so soon at such a big tournament. I’m determined to repay Lee’s faith in me and really kick-start my career.”
Westwood said: “The British Masters has a great tradition of helping to launch the careers of some promising young players over the years and I hope that Bailey fully enjoys his experience at Close House.
“It will obviously be a little different to normal without having fans there, but perhaps that can benefit a player in just his second start, and whatever happens it will be a chance for Bailey to test himself against a strong European Tour field.
“He’s a Worksop lad so I’ve kept an eye on his progress and it was great to see him get his first victory on the MENA Tour earlier this year. The area has produced quite a few Tour players over the last couple of decades and hopefully Bailey can be the next to make it out here.”
Westwood will become the first player to host the Betfred British Masters on two occasions when the Betfred British Masters returns to Close House, the venue near Newcastle upon Tyne, which also hosted the tournament in 2017.
He enjoyed an impressive start to 2020, winning the season’s first Rolex Series event, the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA in January to claim his 25th European Tour title. The Ryder Cup legend is currently second on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai and is seeking a second British Masters victory after first claiming the title in 2007 at The Belfry. He finished tied 15th when the tournament was played at Close House three years ago.
The Betfred British Masters will mark the full resumption of the European Tour’s 2020 season, launching a new six tournament UK Swing. All of these tournaments will be subject to stringent safety and testing protocols set out in the Tour’s comprehensive Health Strategy which will continue to evolve, aligned with international Government guidance and health guidelines.
The tournaments will also be part of the Tour’s new ‘Golf for Good’ initiative, a narrative which will underpin the season and one which aims to give back in three key areas:
▪ Supporting the Communities where the European Tour plays.
▪ Rewarding the true heroes, such as the front line workers.
▪ Promoting the many health benefits that golf offers.
The ‘Golf for Good’ initiative will be launched at the at Close House and across the six weeks £500,000 will be distributed by European Tour to charities local to the tournament venues and charities chosen by the leading ten players in a mini Order of Merit which will run across the tournaments.