Westy continues fine Ryder record

Lee Westwood gave the crowd a wave of acknowledgment and they responded in inevitable fashion.

Lee Westwood gave the crowd a wave of acknowledgment and they responded in inevitable fashion.
“One Lee Westwood. There’s only one Lee Westwood,” they chanted, and you had to reflect that was a pity after another Ryder Cup day brimming with sublime and historic action.
The matches, including the first foursomes to feature all the players in the event’s 83 years, may have see-sawed back and forth. The red of the United States might have sliced into the blue of Europe but there is one thing you can say with utter certainty these days at the Ryder Cup. You can rely on Westwood.
He was the first to get the scoreboard ticking when he and Germany’s Martin Kaymer completed the first unfinished fourball of the morning with a 3&2 victory over Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson.
Then he went out, again with Kaymer, on an afternoon which echoed to random detonations of ‘Italia, Italia’ around the Usk Valley as the Molinari brothers, Edoardo and Francesco, entered the fray and brought home another half point with an all-square encounter against Jim Furyk and 21-year-old Rickie Fowler.
That is what Westwood does at Ryder Cups. He gathers points quietly and consistently, his foursomes result taking him to 18 points at seven Ryder Cups – which by some distance makes him the most experienced and prolific performer at Celtic Manor.
Even for Westwood this year is a bit special on account of the fact that on Thursday morning when he hit his first drive it was his first competitive golf shot since August 6, having been sidelined with a nagging calf injury.
Two months of inaction. If you need to know what that can do to a professional sportsman just remember what happened to Wayne Rooney when he was out for a month shortly before the World Cup.
He was a shadow of his former self. The rust clung to him like it does to a leaky old bucket. His ‘A’ game has still not returned, even if admittedly there have also been off-the-field distractions.
By contrast, Westwood has looked as if he has never been away. He is playing with the serenity of a man who will claim the number one spot in the world if he finishes at the top of the leaderboard in the Dunhill Links championship in Scotland next week, leapfrogging Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
“It’s good to be here. It makes the hard work and the rehab worth it,” said Westwood before modestly trying to share out the glory.
“But like other Ryder Cups I picked a good partner. The atmosphere seems to get better – every green, every tee and down the fairways they are screaming your name. It’s unbelievable.”
It helps when he dispatches his drive straight down the fairway at the first, helps his partner out of the rough at the second and slots an eight-foot putt at the third.
It helps, too, when you have a partner such as Kaymer, the solid young gun of European golf whose win at the USPGA heralded a potentially trophy-laden future.
Mention, too, should be made here of Westwood’s opponents, especially Furyk who demonstrated why golf is renowned as arguably the most honest sport of them all.
Furyk’s drive at the fourth dumped his partner into a muddied spectator walkway not dissimilar from the hippo enclosure at Whipsnade zoo. Relief was allowed. Unfortunately, Fowler dropped a ball from his pocket, instead of the original one, and took his shot off a roadway a club length away.
A spectator pointed out the infringement and Furyk immediately forfeited the hole, at the same time putting his arm around the spectator who insisted he had tried to inform a marshall before the shot was taken.
“It’s not your fault,” Furyk told the fan. “Don’t worry about it.”
It took the Europeans to two up but Furyk is the toughest of competitors as well as one of sport’s gentlemen and it was no surprise that Westwood and Kaymer’s lead was pegged back by American birdies at the sixth and the 11th and a quite spectacular chip from Furyk at the 18th which gave Fowler the chance to make up for his earlier aberration.
He duly holed the four-foot putt to halve a wonderful foursomes encounter with the last shot of the match.
Honours even, you might say, but only because Europe had Westwood.