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Heartwarming way to end British Masters as Renato Paratore win is celebrated with a guard of honour

A week like no other at the Betfred British Masters ended at Close House on Saturday with a touching gesture that might also have been unique.

In America, they’re too busy firing up their private jets and moving on to the next event to worry about what’s happening when the final group gets to the 18th hole.

Conscious there was no crowd to greet Renato Paratore and give him the acclaim that his victory deserved, a goodly number of his fellow pros stayed behind and cheered loudly as the final putt dropped. Then they formed a guard of honour and held up their putters to create a victory arch for him to walk underneath. Class.

On the PGA Tour, you can get rich beyond your wildest dreams and see all your ambitions fulfilled – but it’s on the European Tour where you would find your best mates.

It was the most heartwarming end to an eventful week, one where the Covid-19 restrictions proved too much for Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston and left Lee Westwood, among others, pining for his old way of life.

Under the circumstances, perhaps it wasn’t surprising to see Robert Rock, Andy Sullivan and Dale Whitnell cope best with the stringent protocols to emerge as the three leading Brits in tied fourth place. 

All three had to really graft before finally making it on tour, taking on other jobs at times to supplement their living to keep their fantasies alive. Life in a bubble might well have felt a breeze by comparison.

It was certainly an event like no other to report upon. It began a week before the tournament when a home testing kit arrived by courier. 

Then another Covid-19 test on arrival at the venue, followed by a wait of more than four hours in the car while the result came through. Now you were in the bubble.

Interviews were conducted wearing face coverings, with polite interjections from the press officer if you happened to inch closer than two metres to the interviewee. 

A buddy system in operation meant that meals at the hotel and golf course could only be eaten with one other person.

They were the only two places you were allowed to go. Right outside the venue, there’s an inviting sign for Hadrian’s Wall, and Northumberland in general is one of the great counties in Britain to explore. How about Newcastle for an evening meal? All were out of bounds last week.

I must admit, being a bit pampered like Westwood and long accustomed to things a certain way, it was not easy to adjust. Furthermore, watching the action up close brought home the soullessness without fans far more than watching it on television.

But, at the end of a week when the tour demonstrated such a level of care and professionalism, came that selfless gesture at the 18th. It made me think: this is a proper tour, and these are genuine sports people really worth writing about.

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