Focussed Westwood to celebrate landmark Abu Dhabi win with sparkling water

V Krishnaswamy Abu Dhabi | Updated on January 19, 2020 Published on January 19, 2020

Lee Westwood

Lee Westwood

Lee Westwood, who turns 47 in April, picked up a win in a fourth decade as he completed a comprehensive two-shot win over fellow Englishmen Tommy Fleetwood (63) and Matt Fitzpatrick (67) and Frenchman Victor Perez (63).

The trio chased hard, but the wizened Westwood, who was World No. 1 in 2010, and has at times seemed to be tapering off in his career, did not lose his grip. His last win came at the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa in November, 2018.

India’s Shubhankar Sharma had a completely off-day inn the final round as he finished the week with a three-over 75 and slipped to Tied-59thwith a total of three-under 285.

On Sunday, no one else went better than 17-under. Westwood with four birdies in first eight holes got to 19-under before the turn. He dropped a shot on 16thbut birdied 18thto finish at 19-under for the win.

He credited his win and excellent form to a lot of hard work. He said, “I put in a lot of hard work with Phil Kenyon (putting coach) and I've been working with Ben Davis on the psychological part of it, but I really felt quite calm on the greens this week and rolled a lot of good putts. That was the key to winning, really.”

More focussed than ever and enjoying the game as he did when he was young, Westwood is looking forward to the Majors, the World Golf Championships, and above all a 11thRyder Cup later this year in the United States.

His off-season included a break in Thailand and then testing out clubs in Dubai and a lot of work in the gym. So, how will be celebrate the landmark win.

He let out a big laugh and said, “I didn't take my clubs to Thailand. I had no intention of playing golf there. I was just there to relax and a lot of sleeping, and I did have a couple of glasses of rosé and a couple of beers.

“After Thailand, I decided to do ‘Dry January’, which right now seems a massive mistake (laughter) and I'll do really well to get through tonight without a drink. Everybody's offering me one, but I've held out so far. Normally you'd see me with a glass of champagne or Corona in hand, but I've managed not to have a drink so far.

“I'll give you an update tomorrow whether I'm still committed to the cause. But I would like to. I would like to get right through the next two weeks and then we'll see. I'm trying to lose a bit of weight, so I can't really drink.” So, a sparkling water is what it is likely to be!

Starting the week at 63rdin the world, Westwood will now move inside Top-30 and gets a great push in Ryder Cup rankings. “It's not only an ambition, it's only come to the forefront of my mind, that now I've got a chance to make The Ryder Cup Team. I thought I was done in The Ryder Cup to be honest as a player. I've played ten, and I really enjoyed watching everybody else suffer in the last one,” he said with a huge smile.

“I'm just going to play week-in, week-out and see where that takes me. But I'll be playing in all the big tournaments again. The World Golf Championships are all on the calendar now and obviously every major, so who knows.”

As for India’s Shubhankar Sharma, he began well with a birdie on second and a series of pars but a soft bogey on Par-5 took away any chance of building up a momentum. He dropped shots on eighth, 11th, 12thand 16th. He missed fairways, found water on a Par-3 and hit some below par iron shots to sum up the day.

“After the eighth, I just did not get going. It was the first tournament of the year. Initially the irons did not work and when they did, I missed some other chances and had as many five three-putts in the week. Sure, there were some positives, too. I would like take them as I play in Dubai next week and then Saudi. I would call the week a mixed bag,” said Sharma.

Fitzpatrick started two behind, and one group ahead, never really got any closer, while Westwood’s playing partners, Italian Francesco Laporta (74) and Austrian Bernd Wiesberger (72) never got going.

Fleetwood and Perez, playing five and six groups ahead after starting six behind, were the ones who chased the ultimate winner. With Westwood not making any mistakes save the bogey on 16th, Fleetwood and Perez ran out of holes.

If Perez closed with an eagle after seven birdies, two-time champion in Abu Dhabi, Fleetwood showed his affinity for the Abu Dhabi Golf Club course with a 63 that included three birdies in first four holes, then three in a row from seventh to ninth and another trio from 15thto 17th.

Published on January 19, 2020
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