Hard work took Westy to the top
Lee Westwood has no trouble naming the qualities which later this month will see him replace Tiger Woods as World No 1.
Lee Westwood has no trouble naming the qualities which later this month will see him replace Tiger Woods as the world’s number one golfer.
“A lot of guts, determination, a lot of soul-searching at times, taking responsibility for my own golf swing and finding and listening to just one person – me,” said the man who nine years ago slumped from fourth in the rankings to outside the top 250.
Westwood has to wait to be confirmed as the player who brings to an end the latest five-year reign of Woods.
But, because he has pulled out of this week’s Portugal Masters title defence to give his injured calf more time to recover, it will happen.
The 37-year-old had hoped to topple Woods by finishing first or second in the Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews on Sunday.
Bothered by his leg again, however, he managed only a closing 73 and slipped from fifth to 11th to finish a massive 10 shots behind his Ryder Cup partner Martin Kaymer – winner now of his last three tournaments.
Westwood, who took six weeks off before Celtic Manor, is hoping his next event will be the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai at the start of November.
That is scheduled to be the next appearance of Woods as well – and his last chance to avoid going through an entire PGA Tour season without a victory.
Ideally, of course, Westwood would have wanted to take the top spot on the course, but the vagaries of the rolling two-year system operated by the world rankings mean he does not have to wait until then.
“I’ll take it any way,” he commented. “I’ve had a great year up until getting injured (even after that he came second at The Open).
“Look at all of the world ranking points I’ve won – I was leading that by a mile before I got my injury.
“But I’m not allowing myself to think about it until it happens. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of and it would be great if it happened.”
First, though, comes some rest and then hopefully a complete return to full fitness.
“I haven’t been able to put in the proper practice sessions since the week before the French Open (at the end of June).
“You don’t expect to maintain the same level and improve if you don’t practise, so you won’t see me coming back until I can practise fully and do myself justice out there.”
Whenever that is, Kaymer might be the player he has to worry about more than Woods or Phil Mickelson, who will also be in China as the defending champion.
The 25-year-old German is up to fourth in the world and is the first player since Woods four years ago to win three European Tour titles in a row.
“He’s a fine player and he’s had a great year,” Westwood said of Kaymer, who with a lead of more than £860,000 over Graeme McDowell will surely now succeed Westwood as the circuit’s leading money-winner.
“He’s good down the stretch and a lot like Bernhard Langer – mentally very strong.
“It just shows the strength of European golf. There have been some brilliant performances and it’s no wonder the top of the world rankings are stacked with Europeans.”
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