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Westwood keen to go one better
Last updated: 30th January 2013
Lee Westwood is hopeful of making a good start to his 2013 campaign when he tees off at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic this week.
The Englishman has an indifferent record at the Emirates Golf Club, claiming the runner-up spot on three occasions and making the top 10 for more times, but has yet to win there in 19 appearances.
Nevertheless, the 39-year-old has spend most of the off-season working on his short game in his new home in Florida, practice he believes will help him to be better prepared than he has ever been ahead of a new season.
"I played a lot more this winter than I would normally play," the world number eight commented.
"There's no rust. The main reason for moving to Florida was to get more games of golf, as I wouldn't play normally when I'm at home because of the weather.
"Last week I had shorts on and was out playing with Luke Donald. Living in England I've always finished the year, gone home, packed the clubs away and came back out trying to catch everyone else. My short game is sharper from being out there, especially my putting."
"I should have won when I was up against Miguel (Angel Jiménez) in a play-off in 2010, and then last year I had to birdie the last to force a play-off with Rafa (Cabrera-Bello) and missed it, so I feel like I've let a couple slip," he said.
"It's certainly one I would like to win. I've been back here every year apart from one since 1994 and I have a good record.
"So hopefully this week I'll play as well as I've played the last few years and have a chance again and hopefully finish it off. I feel like I've got a chance come Sunday."
While the course isn't particularly long, Westwood believes the big hitters often profit there.
"You look at the winners from the last few years and they're not short - Rory (McIlroy), Alvaro Quiros, Henrik Stenson and Tiger (Woods)," he continued.
"It's a sand-based course so you don't get much run from your tee shots. It certainly helps to be able to reach the par fives in two.
"I like the fact that it rewards good, solid play. If you hit good, solid shots, you have a chance. It's a good test, which is probably why it has had good winners on it."
Standing in the way of a Westwood victory is defending champion Rafa Cabrera-Bello, the European Tour's newest champion Chris Wood, Serge Garcia, Paul Casey, Oliver Fisher, Tomas Bjorn, Henrik Stenson, and Edoardo Molinari.
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