Lee Westwood had to fight back the tears as he described his emotions following his long-awaited victory at the Nedbank Challenge on Sunday.
The 45-year-old ended a four-and-a-half-year winless run with a commanding three-shot victory at the Gary Player Country Club after a high-class eight-under-par 64 in the final round.
Westwood celebrated his par at the last by hugging girlfriend Helen Storey, who carried his bag in Sun City after he gave long-time caddie Billy Foster the week off.
And with the reality of his 24th European Tour victory sinking in, a tearful Westwood struggled to sum up his emotions.
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) November 11, 2018
“I’m a bit emotional to be honest, you’re never sure whether you’re going to be able to do it again,” he said.
“Until now my emotions felt really under control all day, which is what I’ve been working hard on. I was just trying to hit fairways, stick to my game plan and hit it in the right places.
“I’ve got a bit of a process I’m going through with my golf swing, I’m starting to see better shots; the seven iron into 17 is probably one of the best shots I’ve ever hit and it all just worked.”
He later added: “I’m getting old, I did one for the old men today. You reach 45 and don’t know what to expect. But I’ve always felt comfortable playing this golf course. This one is very special.”
Aside from a superb eagle at the par-five second after hitting his second shot to around four feet, Westwood also sank a number of tricky putts on Sunday, particularly on the back nine as he came home in just 31.
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) November 12, 2018
“I was seeing the lines and I’ve been working on a few things with my putting, just trying to relax and have confidence in it,” he said.
Westwood’s two best finishes this season – his victory on Sunday and his performance at the Made in Denmark in September where he lost in a play-off – both came with his girlfriend as his
caddie, but Westwood said Foster would be back alongside him at the DP World Tour Championship.
“It’s been brilliant. She’s caddied twice for me this year and we lost in a play-off in Denmark and we’ve won here. Might have to have a bit of a rethink, not least about who caddies for me, but our percentages!”
Louis Oosthuizen came closest to challenging Westwood on Sunday, but he simply couldn’t keep up with the former World No 1’s pace.
“There’s not much more I could have done more,” said the South African. “I made good putts. I missed a few easier putts, but all in all I attacked when I wanted to attack and I pulled a lot of good shots off.
“Hats off to Lee the way he played today. Eight under around that golf course without a dropped shot is good golf.”
The European Tour has is going through somewhat of a revival in 2020, with two of the stalwarts of the tour having managed to claim early wi
Spaniard looking ahead.
Englishman has high hopes.
Northumberland course recognised again.
Slieve Russell impressing again.
World number four feeling confident.
Home favourite wants to press home advantage.
Merger to create better opportunities.
Spanish ace extends sponsorship.