Fans at the Omega European Masters were treated to a most unique exhibition event after play on Saturday as Miguel Angel Jiménez, Lee Westwood and Danny Willett played two holes using only hickory golf clubs while decked out in traditional 1930s golf attire.
In front of throngs of Swiss golf fans, Westwood took home the cow-bell trophy for the hickory challenge, a concept created by the prestigious golf tournament to celebrate its 70th anniversary.
The former World Number One from England also faced stiff competition from Paolo Quirici, 2013 World Hickory Champion.
All four players, dressed in 1930s plus fours and newsboy caps, played the tenth and 18th holes (par four and five, respectively) of Golf-Club Crans-sur-Sierre with traditional hickory clubs.
The two-hole challenge was packed full of dramas from the outset. Willett was the first to tee off, landing his ball in the bunker but the Omega European Masters defending champion recovered with a beautiful shot to the green to make par.
Westwood finished the 10th with a superb putt to share the lead with Jiménez and Willett, celebrating with a little dance to the delight of the crowds.
Jiménez was unlucky at the 18th and was forced to attempt a Seve-style “Great Escape” from behind the fence, although he could not quiet emulate the heroics of his celebrated late compatriot and he finished with a bogey.
Play ended with Westwood and Willett facing each other in a play-off, which was a nearest-to-the-pin challenge from the drop zone on the 18th in front of the packed grand stand.
After both players’ balls failed to make the green (Willett’s heading off to the side of the green and Westwood’s dropping into the water), they attempted the shot again and Westwood got the closest for victory.
“It was great fun,” said Westwood afterwards. “It was a completely different feel to what we’re used to normally. The hickory challenge was a good finish to a great day of golf.”
The event was set up to commemorate the 70 years that the OMEGA European Masters has been hosted in Crans-Montana, making it the longest running golf tournament at the same venue in Europe, and the second longest running in the world after the Masters Tournament. The vintage clothing and hickory golf clubs were a nod to 1939, which was the first year that the tournament was played at Golf-Club Crans-sur-Sierre.