Westwood triumphs in Vilamoura

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After three play-off defeats, two near misses in majors and an amazing 26 top-10 finishes, Lee Westwood has won again.

After three play-off defeats, two near misses in majors and an amazing 26 top-10 finishes since his last victory, Lee Westwood was finally won again.
Westwood ended more than two years without a title by capturing the Portugal Masters by two shots from Italian Francesco Molinari and by four from Padraig Harrington at the Oceanico Victoria Club in Vilamoura on Sunday.
The added bonus – he would have been happy to win the smallest event – was that the massive first prize of nearly £458,000 takes Westwood from fourth to first on the European money list.
And that is not all. When the Ryder Cup star last tasted success at the British Masters in September 2007, he said his goal was to make the world’s top five again.
Now he has done it and the way he is playing, it is not difficult to see him climbing even higher.
Not bad for a former European number one and world number four who, in a nightmare slump seven years ago, fell outside the game’s top 250.
Westwood, who pulled off an unlikely birdie at the long 17th when one ahead, said: “It was nice to finish it off, you never know when the next win is going to come and you start to question yourself.
“You always slightly doubt yourself in the back of your mind and to be number one again feels great. It’s been nearly 10 years since I won it.
“I’m also delighted about the world rankings. I always have a good look at that and it’s a reflection of my consistency.
“But winning is definitely a habit and I got out of the habit. Hopefully now I have won again I can win more.”
The 30th victory of his professional career was achieved in Vilamoura with a 23-under-par total of 265 after a bogey-free closing 66.
After birdies at the first four holes – he resumed in third spot, three behind South African Retief Goosen – the 36-year-old from Worksop had to wait until the long 12th for his next birdie.
Goosen had fallen away by then, but Molinari was level until he missed a three-foot par putt on the short 16th.
Then came the decisive hole. Westwood went long and left at the 589-yard 17th and although he was able to take a free drop he still faced a tricky shot.
“All I could see was trees (right in front of him) and water (over the green) – and I had a really tight lie,” he added.
However, from around 30 yards he almost holed it, tapped in for birdie and when Molinari missed a five-footer that would have returned the gap to one, the battle was virtually open.
Harrington always looked to have too much ground to make up on the final day and afterwards blamed dehydration for his costly third-round 71.
The Dubliner had matched the low round of his career with a 62 to be in third place at halfway and knew a closing 67 was never going to be enough.
To his relief a closing three-putt bogey made no difference to his third place.
“In hindsight I think I got dehydrated,” said the Dubliner, whose last Tour win remains the PGA Championship in August last year.
“I struggled to concentrate. I drank a phenomenal amount, but just not enough. My trainer was watching on TV and you can see it in your face – your eyes really.”
Even with a closing 66 Rory McIlroy was only 30th and so drops down to second place on the Race to Dubai standings.
Both he and Westwood are back in action at the Volvo World Match Play in Spain starting on Thursday week.
ALL THE FINAL ROUND SCORES
(Gbr & Irl unless stated, par 72):

265 Lee Westwood 66 67 66 66
267 Francesco Molinari (Ita) 63 66 68 70
269 Padraig Harrington 69 62 71 67
270 Peter Hanson (Swe) 71 65 66 68, Marcel Siem (Ger) 67 69 67 67
271 Retief Goosen (Rsa) 68 64 64 75, Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 65 65 71 70, Justin Rose 65 70 70 66, Alexander Noren (Swe) 70 70 69 62, Danny Willett 69 68 66 68, Johan Edfors (Swe) 69 66 68 68
272 Robert Jan Derksen (Ned) 68 67 67 70, Anthony Wall 68 67 70 67, Scott Drummond 68 69 68 67, Oliver Fisher 67 67 68 70
273 Francois Delamontagne (Fra) 69 69 71 64, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 69 69 68 67, Alvaro Quiros (Spa) 68 65 71 69
274 Ricardo Gonzalez (Arg) 69 67 70 68, Robert Rock 70 68 72 64, Mikko Ilonen (Fin) 71 69 70 64, Oliver Wilson 67 70 64 73, Peter Hedblom (Swe) 69 70 66 69, Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) 73 67 67 67, Marcus Fraser (Aus) 70 67 71 66
275 Gareth Maybin 69 67 65 74, Alejandro Canizares (Spa) 71 68 66 70, Paul McGinley 70 69 68 68, Bradley Dredge 66 70 69 70
276 Steve Webster 71 67 71 67, Rory McIlroy 69 70 71 66, James Kingston (Rsa) 71 64 67 74, Stephen Dodd 71 64 70 71, Shane Lowry 70 65 71 70, Colin Montgomerie 68 71 69 68, Simon Khan 66 68 71 71
277 Ben Curtis (USA) 68 68 72 69, Pablo Martin (Spa) 66 66 68 77, Peter Lawrie 68 68 65 76, Paul Broadhurst 70 68 71 68
278 Paul Waring 69 71 66 72, Taco Remkes (Ned) 71 68 70 69, David Lynn 71 67 66 74, Darren Clarke 69 68 70 71
279 Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (Fra) 68 70 72 69, Damien McGrane 69 67 70 73, Shiv Kapur (Ind) 69 70 71 69, Raphael Jacquelin (Fra) 71 69 74 65, Jose-Filipe Lima (Por) 67 70 72 70, Ignacio Garrido (Spa) 69 71 69 70, Miles Tunnicliff 68 68 70 73, Rafael Cabrera Bello (Spa) 71 67 68 73
280 Marc Warren 68 67 73 72, Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spa) 70 70 66 74, Jarmo Sandelin (Swe) 72 68 71 69, Phillip Price 68 72 71 69, Pablo Larrazabal (Spa) 70 68 67 75
281 Mads Vibe-Hastrup (Den) 66 73 68 74
282 Alastair Forsyth 65 68 77 72, Ross McGowan 69 71 71 71
283 Gary Lockerbie 73 67 74 69, Fabrizio Zanotti (Par) 71 69 74 69, Simon Dyson 70 67 75 71
284 Daniel Vancsik (Arg) 70 70 74 70, Thomas Bjorn (Den) 72 67 72 73, Tano Goya (Arg) 70 66 72 76
285 Anders Hansen (Den) 69 71 69 76
286 John Bickerton 69 69 76 72
289 Shaun Micheel (USA) 70 70 73 76

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