Philisophical Westy still smiling
Lee Westwood can blame a calf injury for wrecking the defence of his European Tour Crown this year – but he’s still smiling.
Just as Martin Kaymer could blame a go-kart accident for stopping him becoming European number one last year so Lee Westwood can point to a calf injury for blunting the defence of his crown this year.
But he does have something else to fall back on and keep a smile on his face – his world number one ranking, of course.
On the eve of Kaymer and Graeme McDowell teeing off in Thursday’s duel in the desert at the season-closing Dubai World Championship, Westwood admitted he was disappointed it was not still a three-horse race.
“But I think I can sit back and have a slight grin being world number one,” he added.
“I’m not going to lose sleep over it, but I would have liked to have had a chance to defend my European crown this week.
“It would have made more exciting for everybody I guess.”
He currently lies third in the race, but the best he can do is overtake McDowell and finish runner-up.
McDowell, meanwhile, needs a top-three finish on Sunday just to have a chance of pipping Kaymer to the post.
It is almost a month now since Westwood succeeded Tiger Woods as world number one, but Kaymer could take it away from him with a top-two finish at the Jumeirah Estates course.
The biggest danger Westwood sees for himself over the next four days is thinking back to what happened 12 months ago.
He won the tournament and the Order of Merit with a dazzling 23 under par total, six better than runner-up Ross McGowan.
A major was the next logical step then, but he was second to Phil Mickelson at The Masters in April and then to Louis Oosthuizen in The Open.
By then he was already battling with his torn plantaris muscle and when he played next at the start of August it struck again.
Even if he had finished in last place at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and had missed the cut in the US PGA Championship Westwood would still have had a chance this week to retain his “Race to Dubai” crown.
But he pulled out after two rounds in Akron and did not even tee off at Whistling Straits.
It was during another lay-off that the five-year reign of Woods was ended, but now he is back playing and hoping his leg injury will not cause him any more problems.
There has been much discussion since Woods dropped to number two over whether it is right the sport’s top-ranked player is somebody who does not have a major to his name.
“I don’t give a monkeys,” said Westwood. “I’ve become number one (the fourth to do so without lifting a major first) and I guess it’s for everybody else to debate.
“I’m not one of those people that confuses being world number one and winning major championships.
“People come out of nowhere and win major championships. Well, that’s not what being number one in this sport is about.
“It’s about consistency and performing well all the time at the highest level.
“The system is based over a two-year rolling period.”
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