New challenge for Westwood

Ryder Cup stalwart Lee Westwood was experiencing something new as the 38th contest got under way at Celtic Manor today.

Lee Westwood may be Europe’s most experienced Ryder Cup player, but even he was experiencing something new as the 38th contest got under way at Celtic Manor today.
Westwood has won 16 and a half points in his previous six appearances, eight more than nearest rival Padraig Harrington, and has played 29 matches since his debut in 1997.
However, the world number three had never appeared in the opening match of the contest before today, when he was scheduled to partner USPGA champion Martin Kaymer in the opening fourballs clash with Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson.
European captain Colin Montgomerie said: “Lee Westwood asking for that position gave me no option to but to give him that honour.
“I know Phil and Dustin hit the first two shots, but the first shot for Europe is an important shot and I think that honour should be given to Lee Westwood.”
Westwood has not played competitively since August 6, when he pulled out of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational with a calf injury, but the 37-year-old is confident he can play as many matches as required.
And the world number three – who will move up to second when the rankings are announced on Monday and could overtake Tiger Woods as number one the following week – is relishing striking the first blow for Europe.
“Obviously any match in the Ryder Cup will be a difficult match but we are quietly confident, we are both playing well and we are looking forward to being first out and leading the team off,” Westwood said.
“Martin has great mental strength, which was there for everybody to see at the PGA Championship and I think he will continue to show that and I am sure he will take to the Ryder Cup like a duck to water.”
That could prove to be a somewhat unfortunate choice of phrase given the weather forecast, with heavy rain forecast for today on an already saturated Twenty Ten course.
So it was no wonder that European captain Colin Montgomerie was desperate for his side to make a flying start and get their noses in front from the outset.
“It’s very important to get that momentum and win the first series,” Montgomerie said.
“Momentum has to be gained early on and then continued through the afternoon to gain the lead on the first evening and that’s my goal. It’s all set up for that.”