Highlights Tours

Ryder Cup legends and rising stars set for Betfred British Masters

Ryder Cup legends Thomas Bjørn and Lee Westwood will return to the scene of one of their most famous Ryder Cup victories when they tee it up alongside three of Europe’s biggest rising stars in May’s Betfred British Masters hosted by Danny Willett at The Belfry.

The duo were members of Sam Torrance’s side which famously won back the 2002 Ryder Cup on a 15½ – 12½ scoreline and started Europe’s undefeated streak on home soil, a record which was continued under Bjørn’s captaincy at Le Golf National four years ago.

Westwood’s history…

Westwood racked up three points in front of his home fans 20 years ago at the Warwickshire venue, forming a strong partnership with Sergio Garcia. Five years later, the former World Number One claimed his maiden British Masters title at The Belfry with a five-stroke victory on the Brabazon Course. He went on to host the tournament at Close House in 2017 and 2020, becoming the first player to do so on two occasions – an honour which Willett will match this year after he took on the role for the first time in 2021.

…and Bjørn’s as well

Bjørn, who claimed a crucial point in the Sunday Singles in 2002 by beating Stewart Cink 2&1, is also a former winner of the British Masters, securing his eighth of 15 victories on Tour in 2005 when it was held at Forest of Arden.

Who else is participating?

The two DP World Tour legends join Betfred British Masters host Danny Willett and defending champion Richard Bland in the field, as well as three of the DP World Tour’s most promising rising stars.

Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre will hope to keep up his run of strong performances at the British Masters, following on from a runner-up finish in 2019 and a tied eighth result at last year’s tournament.

Danish representatives at the Ryder Cup

History-making twins Nicolai and Rasmus Højgaard, who are aiming to follow in Bjørn’s footsteps as Danish representatives at the Ryder Cup, will also tee it up at The Belfry in May, with Rasmus returning to the venue where he won his second DP World Tour title – the ISPS Handa UK Championship. The victory was the second win in his 2019 rookie season.

The pair became the first brothers to win back-to-back events as Rasmus won the Omega European Masters the week before Nicolai earned a maiden DP World Tour title at the DS Automobiles Italian Open. Nicolai returned to the winner’s circle earlier this year at the Ras Al Khaimah Championship presented by Phoenix Capital. The Højgaard twins have won five times in 110 starts between them.

Tickets and Premium Experiences for the Betfred British Masters

Tickets are available to watch Richard Bland, Danny Willett and a host of DP World Tour stars return to The Belfry for this year’s Betfred British Masters from May 5-8. Click here to purchase.

Premium experiences are also available at the tournament with options in the Ryder Suite and Wishaw Suite. The Ryder Suite was home of the European Team Room at the 2001 Ryder Cup, while the Wishaw Suite is in close proximity to the famous tenth and 18th holes of the Brabazon Course, offering sweeping views across the impressive golf course and estate. Click here to view Premium Experiences.

(Text: DP World Tour)

European Tour

DP World Tour: Global stars gather for new era at 2022 Dubai Desert Classic

World Number Two and reigning Open champion Collin Morikawa and four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy are among the world’s best who will join defending champion Paul Casey as a new era begins at Emirates Golf Club from January 27-30.

World Number Six Viktor Hovland became the first Norwegian to play in the Ryder Cup last year. He will make his second appearance at the event, alongside teammates Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Bernd Wiesberger, as well as their Captain, three-time Major winner Pádraig Harrington.

The 2019 Open Champion Shane Lowry, who also made his Ryder Cup debut at Whistling Straits, will join Europe’s all-time leading points scorer and fellow Major winner Sergio Garcia in the field, with the Spaniard aiming to lift the famous Dallah trophy for the second time.

Danny Willett is seeking to achieve the same feat, with the Englishman setting the precedent for Garcia by winning at the Emirates Golf Club just months before securing the Green Jacket.

Rory McIlroy at the Dubai Desert Classic (Photo: Getty Images)

Anniversary for Adam Scott

It promises to be a memorable anniversary for another former winner at Augusta National, with the 2013 Masters Tournament champion Adam Scott returning to the event exactly 20 years after his last appearance in 2002. Meanwhile it will be a 13th appearance for the 2010 U.S. Open winner Graeme McDowell., the logistics technology provider that is revolutionising the way global supply chains work, is the new title sponsor of the Dubai Desert Classic, an event which boasts a glittering list of former winners.

Amongst those once again teeing it up this month are 2016 Open Champion Henrik Stenson, victorious European Ryder Cup Captains Thomas Bjørn and Colin Montgomerie, Spanish Ryder Cup stars Rafa Cabrera Bello and Miguel Ángel Jiménez and Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher – the only player to have lifted the trophy in consecutive seasons. With two-time DP World Tour winners Lucas Herbert and Li Haotong also in the field, 10 of the 13 winners in the past 15 years will appear.

The Dubai Desert Classic will also provide a unique opportunity for one up-and-coming star, with Texan Sam Bennett claiming a sponsor exemption as the top-ranked player in the PGA TOUR University Velocity Global Ranking.

Viktor Hovland will make his second appearance. (Photo: Getty Images)

Simon Corkill, Executive Tournament Director, Dubai Desert Classic, said: “This year’s Dubai Desert Classic has attracted some of the world’s best golfers, and we look forward to welcoming a world-class international field for a truly memorable edition of the event. With free entry for spectators this year, a first for the tournament, there is sure to be an incredible atmosphere befitting the elevated status of a Rolex Series event on the DP World Tour.”

The Dubai Desert Classic 2022 will be the second of back-to-back Rolex Series events in the Middle East in January, with the tournaments in Abu Dhabi and Dubai also part of the European Tour’s traditional ‘Desert Swing’ which annually attract the sport’s leading players.

Tournament’s 33rd edition

Celebrating its 33rd edition in 2022, the iconic tournament has been won by some of golf’s greatest names, including Major Champions Seve Ballesteros, Fred Couples, Jose Maria Olazábal, Mark O’Meara, Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau.

The winners’ circle over the past 32 years has also featured Ryder Cup stars such as Mark James, the inaugural champion in 1989. The tournament is now set for an even brighter future with the support of

This year’s event offers plenty to interest spectators both on and off the course. Tournament Town will provide a wide range of family- friendly entertainment in addition to food trucks from some of the city’s popular brands including Shawarma Station, Aballi Arabic Concept, Wok Boyz, Koshari, Choma BBQ, Burro Blanco and more.

Other initiatives include ‘Pink Saturday’, where players, caddies and fans are encouraged to dress in pink to raise awareness about breast cancer in the UAE and beyond, and ‘Sustainability Sunday’, a day dedicated to bringing the tournament’s many green and sustainable initiatives into focus.

(Text: DP World Tour press release)

European Tour

Defending Champion Hatton joined in Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship field by Fleetwood, Lowry and Westwood

Defending champion Tyrrell Hatton will be joined at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship by fellow former winners Tommy Fleetwood, Shane Lowry and Lee Westwood as the latest star players set to arrive at Yas Island for the opening Rolex Series event of the 2022 DP World Tour season, from January 20-23.

The quartet will be joined at Yas Links Abu Dhabi by their Ryder Cup team-mates Viktor Hovland, Ian Poulter and Bernd Wiesberger and their 2020 Captain Pádraig Harrington. Former Masters Champions Adam Scott and Danny Willett also return to the Emirate, with 2016 Open Champion Henrik Stenson looking to add another victory in the Desert to his impressive resume.

Hatton became just the second player to claim four Rolex Series titles after a flawless performance in Abu Dhabi last year which saw him overturn the overnight lead of four-time Major Champion Rory McIlroy to clinch a four-stroke victory.

The World Number 22 will defend the prestigious falcon trophy at Yas Links Abu Dhabi, where Northern Irishman McIlroy will tee off his 2022 season and recently crowned DP World Tour Number One and two-time Major Champion Collin Morikawa will make his Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship debut – the duo having already committed to back-to-back events in the UAE.

“Abu Dhabi was a crucial win for me in January,” said Hatton, a two-time Ryder Cup player. “It was my sixth Tour victory, and I was incredibly proud to join such an illustrious list of champions. It was without doubt the perfect start to my 2021 season.

“I’m excited to defend my trophy at Yas Links Abu Dhabi. It’s great to be at a new, world class venue and I know it will be a fantastic week with a stellar field.”

“I always love starting my season at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and that is reflected by my results there down the years,” said two-time winner Fleetwood. “It is set to be a great week at Yas Links, which is a great venue worthy of an event of this stature.”

Lowry added: “I’m really looking forward to starting my season in Abu Dhabi once again. I obviously have very fond memories of this event and there is always a great vibe as the year gets underway with great weather, a strong field and a lively atmosphere among the fans.”

“I can’t wait to get to Yas Links as it hosts the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the first time, said two-time Rolex Series winner Westwood. “It’s a course I really enjoy and hopefully that, along with the memories of my win in Abu Dhabi in 2020, can help me put in a strong performance and put myself in contention come Sunday.”

Scott, the 2013 Masters Tournament champion, has also confirmed his return to Abu Dhabi, making his first appearance at the tournament since 2008. The 41-year-old will tee it up in the 17th edition of the event as it moves to one of the world’s fastest growing leisure and entertainment destinations in Abu Dhabi.

The former World Number One is an 11-time Tour winner having claimed several titles in the Middle East and most recently securing the Australia PGA Championship, but his greatest victory so far came nine years ago at Augusta National. He birdied the 72nd hole to force a play-off with 2009 champion Angel Cabrera before birdieing the second extra hole to become the first Australian to wear the coveted Green Jacket.

His Excellency Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said: “We are delighted to welcome back our defending champion Tyrrell Hatton, along with our most recent tournament winners Tommy Fleetwood, Shane Lowry and Lee Westwood to the 17th edition of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“As we move our distinguished Championship to Yas Island for the first time, we are looking forward to showcasing the magnificent Yas Links golf course, the incredible facilities on offer for players and spectators alike, plus the stellar field of world class golfers kicking off an exciting year of sport in the UAE.”

Highlights Tours Live

Lee Westwood took a step farther in the dreaming scale at the Ryder Cup and this is why

After one more year of waiting for this moment to come, the excitement and the enthusiasm was incredibly high and both Team USA and Team Europe gave it all for them, the staff and the fans at the Ryder Cup. Team USA made history winning the battle 19-9 against Europe. However, all the players and the fans showed an impeccable behavior and respect to each other regardless of their team preferences. Europe had no problem in recognizing the great perfomance of the American players, although they would have wished to bring few more points home as well.

Lee Westwood falls back in love with golf during the Ryder Cup and he could not help but sharing such a special experience with his son caddying for him. Family always comes first, and Westwood was the lucky man who took a step farther in the dreaming scale and was able to live his all-time favorite event hand to hand with his favorite person in the world, his son.

Team UK Top Tours

Lee Westwood does his homework to pulish the accuracy of his irons yardage.

The FedexCup Playoffs have been very intense, full of emotions and great golf. The englishman Lee Westwood classified for the first event, known as the Northern Trust. This tournament was played at the Liberty National Golf Course, in New Jersey, where he shot a total of 9-under par for a T27. Westwood fell into the Top 70 players that moved forward into the BMW Championship, the second event of the PlayOffs. It was held at the Caves Valley Golf Club, in Owings Mills, MD.

Performance at the BMW Championship
Westwood showed some consistency off the fairway with a 79.2% of accuracy in greens in regulation. However, his final statistics showed a total of 50% of sand saves. This means that, he would have only saved one out of two pars after missing the green, and that translated into few more bogeys on his scorecard than expected.
Although the englishman completed the BMW Championship with an average of 1.6 putts, he signed a final score of 11-under par, for a T34, falling out of the Top 30 that would sneak into the TOUR Championship, the last event of the FedexCup Playoffs.

Lee Westwood keeps up the good work and shares it with his fans.
Westwood wants to make sure that he gets to know his yardage to improve his performance in the upcoming tournaments. He shares his work on and off the course through his social media, and here there is a video of him putting the effort in the driving range. Westwood is taking notes on his irons yardage with the help of the trackman.

Team UK

Lee Westwood named 2020 Seve Ballesteros Award winner as Players’ Player of the Year

Lee Westwood has been named the winner of the Seve Ballesteros Award as the 2020 European Tour Players’ Player of the Year following a remarkable season which culminated in the 48-year-old topping the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex and being crowned European Tour Number One for the third time in his storied career.

The announcement coincides with the ten year anniversary of the passing of the Spanish legend Ballesteros, who died on May 7, 2011 following a battle with cancer. Westwood’s first of ten Ryder Cup appearances came in 1997 under Ballesteros, who captained Europe to a famous win at Valderrama.

The Englishman had long ago secured his status alongside the late Ballesteros as one of the European Tour’s greatest ever players, but a memorable 2020 campaign has earned him another accolade after his fellow European Tour Members voted him the Players’ Player of the Year.

It was a season bookended by two of his most impressive performances. In his first appearance of the season, Westwood claimed his second Rolex Series title at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, overcoming his fellow Englishmen Matt Fitzpatrick and Tommy Fleetwood as well as France’s Victor Perez.

He capped off his season on a high too, his runner-up finish behind Fitzpatrick at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai earning him the title of 2020 Race to Dubai Champion.

In a disrupted campaign due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Westwood’s consistency was something to behold – in 15 appearances he missed just one cut and produced eight top 20 finishes.

On top of that, Westwood continued to give back to the game and to the European Tour through hosting the 2020 Betfred British Masters at Close House, which marked the first of six events in the UK Swing and was won by Italian Renato Paratore.

“It means a lot that it is voted for by my fellow players, the guys I play with week-in week-out,” said Westwood. “Awards like this are always very special because I feel like they as players know what you have to go through.

“I played a lot of good golf under pressure when I needed to in 2020. The win in Abu Dhabi at the start of the year and then to have a chance to play so well in the final event at the DP World in Dubai, I was really pleased with those two tournaments, but I was also consistent and that was important to me. It was a very difficult year with the pandemic for everyone, and we were very fortunate to play golf during this time.

“Seve was an icon of the game, and still is. When I started playing golf, I was looking at the Europeans and Seve’s name was at the top of that list as somebody to aspire to. The first tournaments I ever went to watch were Ryder Cups in 1989 and 1993, and Seve’s name is synonymous with the Ryder Cup.

“I remember looking at these guys like Seve and Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie, Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam wanting to be like them. Then in 1997 I am in a Ryder Cup team captained by Seve Ballesteros, so it was a very short gap between looking and watching and learning from my heroes to actually being amongst them trying to win points in a Ryder Cup. That for me was really one of those pinch yourself moments, like is this really happening to me. Seve was a huge part of that and inspirational in the team room, and just a phenomenal and very calming presence.”

Keith Pelley, Chief Executive Officer at the European Tour, said: “I don’t think it is any surprise that Lee Westwood has won the Seve Ballesteros Award after such a tremendous season. At 48 years of age he is an icon, a former World Number One, our most recent Race to Dubai winner and like Seve, Lee is a true champion. He has an unwavering will to succeed, and he has proven that over and over again in his career.

“Lee is one of the few remaining European Tour players to have competed alongside Seve and to have had the honour to call him a friend. They are two players who will be long remembered in the pantheon of European Tour and Ryder Cup greats.”

Javier Ballesteros, Seve’s oldest son, added: “I am personally very happy Lee Westwood is the winner of the Seve Ballesteros Award for his incredible season. Lee is playing some great golf, I think he is physically in great shape and when you enjoy not only golf but life away from the game, things go well for you, and that has shown in how he has played not only last year but over the past few years around the world.”

David Howell, European Tour Tournament Committee Chairman, said: “It’s obviously not the first time Lee has won the Race to Dubai, and last year was of course a strange year, but it seems fitting that whenever something slightly different comes along Lee Westwood is there to remind us that things are normal.

“Whilst Seve was a worldwide player, a Major winner and one of the biggest stars in the game, you always felt that his heart was with the European Tour. I think that came out with his Ryder Cup heroics and you just knew Seve cared deeply about the growth of the European Tour, and similarly with Lee, while he has been at the top of the tree for many years you just know his heart is with us and he has always supported the European Tour where possible. He has been one of the biggest names for over two decades now and it is great to see someone so loyal to our Tour coming up trumps again last year.”

(Text: European Tour)

European Tour

Returning Champion Westwood eager to restart the Race

Reigning Race to Dubai Champion Lee Westwood begins 2021 with the defence of his Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship title this week, and the 47-year-old feels as ready as ever for the challenge ahead in the opening Rolex Series event of the season.

The Englishman kicked off his historic 2020 campaign with the second Rolex Series victory of his career, courtesy of a two-stroke triumph over Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood and Victor Perez at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

That win helped propel Westwood to history, kick-starting a remarkable season which culminated in him becoming the oldest player to be crowned European Tour Number One, at the conclusion of the Race to Dubai almost exactly one month ago. Unsurprisingly, the ten-time Ryder Cup player is brimming with confidence on his return to the Middle East.

The man Westwood dethroned last year, winner of the 2019 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Shane Lowry, is also returning with high hopes. The reigning Open Champion is targeting a return to his best form as the European Points List re-starts in the race for qualification to Padraig Harrington’s 2021 European Ryder Cup team. 

Lee Westwood:  “It’s always good coming back to a tournament and a venue where you’ve won before. You have that little bit of confidence. I played the back nine today. I was walking up on to that 18th green and the last time I was there was when I was winning the tournament last year. It’s always a confidence booster when you come back to somewhere where you’ve won, you’re familiar with and feel like you can score well. Other than the win last year, I’ve had some good performances here. It’s a golf course that sets up well for me.

“I feel good. I came out early to the Middle East to do some pre-season. Can’t do anything at home at the moment because the golf courses are closed, and the weather is no good. 

“My game feels in good shape, I don’t feel like I’ve had much of an off-season. The year finished so late last year and we’ve started early this year. I feel in good shape and driving the ball well and putting feels good. I was saying to Helen this morning that I’ve done everything, I’m getting bored and I wish it was Thursday.”

Shane Lowry:  “I think if I get another win on the board and head to America in September and win the Ryder Cup that’s my goal for the year, to focus on myself and try and get another win on the board soon enough and then hopefully go to Whistling Straits in September and bring back the Ryder Cup to Europe. Obviously I want to make the team but I also want to go out there and win as well, stamp my name on that part of golf.

“Obviously I’ve had some success here in the past, in 2019. I didn’t play here for quite a few years so it was nice to come back that year and then win in my first trip back for a while. I like the tournament and I like the place but I haven’t played a tournament in definitely eight weeks, maybe more.

“The fact that we’re all competing, and we’re here in Abu Dhabi this year with the prize fund gone up a million dollars. It’s incredible what both Tours have done, the European Tour and the PGA Tour, and it’s great to be back playing and doing our jobs, and it has been for around six months now. I’d be fairly optimistic in thinking everything will go ahead, it’s just how much of a level of normality will it be, who knows.”

Text: European Tour Press Release

European Tour

Westwood named European Tour Golfer of the Year

The 47-year-old Englishman began the season with victory in the year’s first Rolex Series event, the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January, and ended it by winning the Race to Dubai after finishing runner up to Matt Fitzpatrick in the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai earlier this month.

In between those two standout performances, he showed remarkable consistency, missing only one cut in 15 European Tour appearances and recording six consecutive top 20 finishes from the ISPS Handa UK Championship in August to the Scottish Championship presented by AXA in October.

The ten time Ryder Cup player also hosted the Betfred British Masters for the second time at Close House in July, with the tournament marking the full resumption of the European Tour’s 2020 season following a three month pause due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Westwood made history in Abu Dhabi when he became the first active golfer to win across four separate decades by claiming his 25th European Tour title.

The former World Number One entered the record books again in the Middle East at the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai as he birdied two of the last three holes in the season-finale to secure solo second place, becoming only the sixth player to win the Harry Vardon Trophy three times or more since the European Tour came into existence in 1972.

He was previously crowned European Number One in 2000 and 2009, with the span of 20 years between his first and most recent Harry Vardon trophy surpassing the previous record of 15 years held by Seve Ballesteros. His longevity was further underlined by the fact he also became the oldest winner of the Race to Dubai at the age of 47 years, seven months and 20 days.

Westwood has now added his fourth European Tour Golfer of the Year award to that list of achievements, having also claimed the honour in 1998, 2000 and 2009. He was chosen as the 2020 recipient by a panel comprising members of the golf media. 

Lee Westwood said: “I am very honoured and extremely flattered to have been named European Tour Golfer of the Year as I know the competition for the award this year would have been extremely high. 

“Thank you to the media for voting for me and also huge congratulations again to everyone at the European Tour who did a tremendous job this year managing to put on a full International schedule under such difficult times. 

“I never forget that I am extremely fortunate to do a job which I love, and which has sent me around the world playing in the most amazing places and meeting some wonderful people, so to win this award is very humbling.            

 “I am looking forward to the 2021 season, the 28th season of my career, which I will start by defending at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.” 

Keith Pelley, Chief Executive Officer of the European Tour, said: “Lee has been an incredible ambassador for golf and for the European Tour, not just throughout 2020 but also across his entire career.

“His performances and his professionalism are matched by his longevity and his commitment to European golf. For Lee to call shortly before our resumption and ask what he could do to help the Tour is testament to the person and the player he is. 

“To then go on to become the European Tour’s Number One player for a third time, 20 years after he first achieved that accolade, was a storybook way to end this most challenging of years. Lee is therefore a thoroughly deserving winner of the European Tour’s Golfer of the Year award.”

Panel Member James Corrigan, Golf Correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, said: “Lee Westwood is the worthy recipient on his golf alone – winning the Race to Dubai having prevailed in Abu Dhabi and racking up another seven top 20s. Yet the fact that he lifted his third Harry Vardon Trophy as a 47-year-old, 20 years after his first, makes his candidature all the more irresistible.

“He has been incredibly loyal to his home circuit and as Matt Fitzpatrick said in Dubai: “Lee is the definition of this tour.” 

(European Tour)

Team UK

European Tour: Lee Westwood Revisits Last Week’s Win and Previews Omega Dubai Desert Classic

European Tour professional and 25 time winner including last week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship speaks with the media ahead of the Dubai Desert Classic, talking last week’s win, preventing injury, and the Super Bowl.

European Tour: Lee Westwood previews 2020 Omega Dubai Desert Classic

BRIONY CARLYON: We welcome our latest winner from The European Tour, Lee Westwood, to the OMEGA Dubai Desert Classic.

It’s great to have you here this week, but question on everyone’s mind is how you celebrated on Sunday night.

LEE WESTWOOD: I think because I had not had a drink for nearly two weeks, it affected many he really quickly. So I was a really cheap date for somebody, after about four beers, I felt I was flying. I just went to the sports bar and watched Liverpool beat Man-United with Thomas Björn, so he was pleased. A few beers, a few pints of Guinness. Went back around 3.00 for a chicken shawarma some chips, watching the 49ers. It was a perfect day, really, round of golf and watching the 49ers get into the Super Bowl.

BRIONY CARLYON: We spoke a few days ago, 25 wins on The European Tour, and obviously how much that meant to you, but have you had time to process its in past 24 hours or so?

LEE WESTWOOD: I think the more you win, the more you get used to getting back to being on an even keel, really. A lot of people, if they are won early in their career, they struggle to bring themselves back again, but I’ve won a lot of tournaments and I’ve won weeks back-to-back.

Obviously over the years, I’ve had to really kind of evaluate everything, take it all in, process it, if you call it that — I hate that term — and then get ready for the following week.

Yesterday I came up, hit a few balls, but being here, letting people congratulate me, kind of being around, being present and getting that out of the way, let’s me focus on this week’s tournament quicker.

Q. I would imagine you’d been inundated with people congratulating. Any in particular?
LEE WESTWOOD: All of them, really. Anybody who’s texted me, they are all my friends and they obviously are all very special. Everybody from Gary Player and Greg Norman to Ronan Keating and Robbie Williams. It’s a fairly broad spectrum of friends I’ve got. You know, got like 150 WhatsApps to reply to, 70 text messages and 30 e-mails. I love all the congratulations, but by the end, I was sending the thumbs-up back (laughing).

No, it’s great. I’ve got a lot of good friends, friends from years ago when I was at school sending me e-mails, and that’s really nice.

Q. Not just from golf, larger than sport —
LEE WESTWOOD: It’s nice, kind of — I don’t know how to put it, like you say it wasn’t just golf. People, you know, nearly 47 and he’s hanging in there and still got the drive, four different decades.

Yeah, it’s obviously a big achievement because nobody’s ever done it before. I’m proud of that, and you know, come back down for this week and get focussed on trying to play well again. I might play great and not win this week. But obviously playing great is a priority.

Q. I think I’m right in saying that you’ve been fairly focused in terms of not suffering from various ailments and injuries.
LEE WESTWOOD: I really have.

Q. How have you addressed that? Is it exercise or what you eat or whatever it is?
LEE WESTWOOD: I tell you, what I just spoke to Helen, my fiancé, she’d tell that you my diet could be better, and there’s times when I drink a little bit too much.

But over the years, I’ve worked out a lot and I’m very fortunate to play practice rounds with people like Greg Norman and Nick Price, Nick Faldo in the early years and Gary Player and just obviously impressed upon me working out. I don’t so much need to be skinny, but I’ve always concentrated on maintaining the areas of my body that take a battering, knees, back, shoulders, I’ve done a lot of exercise over the years on them to try and prevent injury, really, rather than getting an injury and then having to fix it. I’ve only really been out once and that was when I tore a calf muscle, basically.

Q. You see various injuries nowadays, ailments.
LEE WESTWOOD: I think also the way I swing it — well, without knowing, I was fortunate when I was a kid that I played lots of different sports. I didn’t start playing golf at five years of age, so I played lots of different sports, rugby, football, cricket. I was a good runner. And all those kind of give me a base, a physical base to work from.

I was just a strong lad growing up and pretty fit. Then I started playing golf at 14. I do sometimes worry about these kids who start playing golf at the age of five now, because golf, you’re bending over, you curve your spine that way, you rotate, as well. It’s not the ideal movement for a six- or seven-year-old kid. You’re just going to end up.

Q. Do you think five is too young?
LEE WESTWOOD: I think, yeah, it probably is. Mentally, you’re not ready for golf at that kind of age. It’s a pretty draining sport mentally, and certainly look at my son, if he’d taken it up at a young age, he wouldn’t have enjoyed the game as much as he’s enjoying it now. He just started at 13, 14 years of age, which I did.

Yeah, I’ve been lucky with injuries, but I’ve also done the work when it’s needed, going to the gym in my late 20s. I probably should have gotten there earlier, but just didn’t switch on quick enough. So I got in the gym around my 30s which coincided with getting to No. 1 in the world and I did a lot of hard work with Steve McGregor kind of from 2006-ish to 2012, which is going to be a good foundation. I’m back working with him again.

So you know, doing a lot of leg strength and flexibility, and a lot of work on my back to try and pull my posture into line. In golf, you’re always like this (hunched over) you need to open them up.

Q. From a 23-year-old who won in 1996, there was so much show of emotion, you running after the ball when you made that long putt at the Scandinavian Masters to the celebrations now, just tell me, how much has the celebrations changed, and also, how much has the week after winning, say, your first tournament, if you just look back at it, and now after winning the 25th tournament, the week after, players go through a lot of highs, highs almost, not any lows. But what have been your experience?
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, that putt — I don’t have quite that energy anymore.

But yeah, you’re right, the following weeks used to be difficult. I took the week off, actually, after winning Scandinavia and I came back and missed the cut. It was difficult. Your first win, you’re obviously in a dream world and it’s very difficult. You’ve not had that experience before, so you don’t know how to handle it. It just comes with experience and winning more tournaments. Now, you know, it takes me — it took me, you know, a day. My drinks are a bit more grown up and my celebrations, as well (chuckling). No more shots.

Q. And nobody has done the UAE quadruple, when I asked you in Abu Dhabi, as well. Is that something that’s a thought as you go into this week?
LEE WESTWOOD: No, I didn’t even realize it happened to be honest until people started talking about it. It’s not something that even registered with me. But obviously it’s nice to do it, and I think as a golfer, you just — you should just focus on the bare facts, break it down trying to play well that week. If you’re good enough and you play your best game, then you’ll have a chance of winning out here.

Q. When did you hook up again with Steve?
LEE WESTWOOD: About March last year. I had a sit-down with him. Didn’t really fully commit to it and didn’t get into it, but he’s always trying to get me back into the gym and doing stuff like that. If somebody pushes me to something, I just kind of shut off, and I think now he’s kind of learning to just tease me in there. I went on holidays, Thailand over Christmas and the new year, and went in every day. Maintenance stuff, exercise work, shoulder blades, more flexibility in my shoulder. It’s all based around just trying to swing the golf club and injury prevention, really, and he obviously said gaining a bit of weight, it’s easy to turn fast, when you don’t have to shift all this fat around.

Q. So team Westy would be Steve, Ben, Phil, Rocky, Helen?
LEE WESTWOOD: Helen, who was caddying for me that week, yeah. I try to bring them all together, and so we’re all singing off the same hymn sheet.

Q. You obviously talked about the Ryder Cup on Sunday, but have your other goals changed for this year as a result of how well you played last week and the win, obviously being in the majors, in particular?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, I didn’t really have any goals. My goal is simply, you know, this is the work with Ben, the goal is to work on the mental side of the game because I feel like that’s where — that part of the game, if anything, has been lacking and that’s going to enable me to play my best more often.

So I’ve been working on that part of the game, and it is basically just go out, try my best, have fun, and just control what I control. You know, the movements in my golf swing and stuff like that. I know if I get it in the right positions on the golf plane, I hit the ball straight, and you know what, shock; if I hit the ball straight and starts holing a few putts, I’m talented enough to win tournaments, and if I win tournaments, I move up with the World Ranking points and move up the Money List and start qualifying for World Golf Championships and majors and possibly at the end of the year, The Ryder Cup Team, who knows.

Q. In Abu Dhabi, if we really look at the entire tournament, first round was not your best round?
LEE WESTWOOD: I played well the first round.

Q. Just looking at the scores. But what I wanted to ask you is that I saw you on a few holes with Eddie and Poulter and you were really having a blast and you were really enjoying the round, even though those two or in the really playing as well?
LEE WESTWOOD: They struggled a bit. But to answer Martin’s question, my goal is to just go out there and have fun and if I’m playing with two lads that are friends of mine and that I get on with, and I love Eddie’s sense of humour; and I’ve always gotten on with Poults and you know what Poults is like, he’s like a peacock out there, bouncing around, chest out, and he just makes me chuckle and he gets me in a good mood.

You know, first two rounds of the year, nobody we’re just out there really breaking ourselves in for a year. I played solid over the first two days, and then obviously played better over the last two days, you know, started holing a few more putts. My stats were pretty good over the first two days. I hit a lot of fairways. After three rounds, I hit as many fairways as anybody, so it wasn’t like the first two rounds was a bit scrappy or anything.

Q. Get a text from Padraig?
LEE WESTWOOD: I haven’t, no. He’s probably trying to not put too much pressure on me, not that he could.

Q. When you have played as much as you have, and when you have won as much as you have, is there anything else that you look forward to in your career, and what’s kind of the legacy that you’d like to have?
LEE WESTWOOD: My legacy, I don’t want — when I die, I don’t want people to sit down and golf be the first thing they mention about me. I want them to focus on other things. You know, he was a nice lad or you know good fella and you could always go towards him. He was never nasty to people. He always tried to do the right thing, and then he won a few golf tournaments.

Q. 49ers is your team?
LEE WESTWOOD: Since the late 80s, Jerry Rice — they only showed one game a week in England. Channel 4.

Q. Can I ask you one last question? Of all the 18 holes over there at Majelis, which one is your favorite and why?
LEE WESTWOOD: There’s a lot of good holes on this golf course. I think 6 is probably the toughest hole. You know, you’ve got to hit the fairway, narrow green — well, it certainly helps if you hit the fairway. But I think 18 is a cracking finishing hole. Always provides excitement.

But I think as far as looking at a hole, the 8th is one of the most spectacular holes, and also with the new tee on 9, 9 is going to be one of the sneaky hard holes again this week. Got to hit the fairway. I mean, I haven’t been out there yet but I like the way everybody is talking about it. They have added a little bit of length. It’s just a golf course that I’ve always enjoyed playing. Whenever I’ve come out here on holiday, I’ve come here and I’ve always enjoyed playing this golf course. Obviously you look the results, you’d say it suits me.

BRIONY CARLYON: All the best this week.

January 21, 2020

Dubai, UAE

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Team UK

European Tour: Lee Westwood Speaks Following 2020 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Victory

PGA Tour and European Tour professional Lee Westwood speaks with the media following his 25th European Tour victory and 44th victory overall coming at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

European Tour: Lee Westwood talks to the media following Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

CLARE BODEL: Lee, second Rolex Series win, your 25th European Tour win; 40-something worldwide; you’ve won in four decades —

LEE WESTWOOD: That’s the one.

CLARE BODEL: That’s the one. Pretty good day?

LEE WESTWOOD: Very good. I felt pretty comfortable all week, and not sort of wanting to say how good I felt, I’ve been swinging, but more trying to keep a lid on how good I felt I’ve been putting.

I don’t know why it is, I put in a lot of hard work with Phil Kenyon 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. You’ve got to putt well to win any tournament, but especially these in the desert because the greens are so immaculate, you know that everybody is going to hole their putts.

It was great, and like you say, four different decades. Feel really old when somebody says that, don’t you. Luckily most of you have been here throughout, so I know you’ve all aged, as well. Looking at hair, for starters.

CLARE BODEL: Talking about being one of the more experienced gentlemen on Tour, you said that one of your ambitions now is to make The Ryder Cup Team again. Is that something that’s now at the forefront of your mind, as you beat three young pups who were also amongst it to second place?

LEE WESTWOOD: 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.

You know, now I give myself a chance to play, so yeah, I’ll just play week-in, week-out, just to see. I’m not going to increase my schedule or anything like that. 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.

CLARE BODEL: And just a bit about this tournament, a place that you’ve played quite a few times over the years. How special is it to win here in Abu Dhabi?

LEE WESTWOOD: It’s great to win. I’ve played well here in the past. Obviously a couple of years ago, Helen caddied for me, the first time she caddied and we finished Top-10, and the first time I ever came, I finished second I think to Martin Kaymer, tied with Henrik.

So it’s a golf course I’ve always felt like, yeah, it suits me, but you know, just never really quite putted well enough, but this week certainly did. What did I make, four bogeys all week? That’s pretty good golf.

CLARE BODEL: Certainly a good week.

Q. The four decades thing, you’re the first to do that. You think of the names who haven’t done it, Ernie —
LEE WESTWOOD: I can’t see it being five (laughter) but you never know, do you.

Q. How much pride does that give you?
LEE WESTWOOD: It gives me a lot of pride to set new sort of targets for everybody. That’s what sport’s about, isn’t it. I’m surprised I’m the first one to do it.

But you know, I’ve been out here a long time, this is my 28th season. So yeah, I’d like to add a few more to that. But I think it just shows the level I’ve played at for such a long time, longevity in sport is difficult to achieve.

And obviously I kept myself supremely fit a finally tuned athlete over all those years and paying off now. I feel as healthy now as I ever have playing golf. Don’t groan too much when I get out of bed in the morning to put my socks on; you know what that’s like.

I’ve got like a new commitment to the gym. I was in there this morning and I did 40 minutes’ cardio, trying to get a bit of weight off, just so my body functions a bit better in the golf swing.

If I’ve got that kind of drive, then I feel like I can continue to move on like this.

Q. And the tears, you’re not really known for your emotion but they were obviously flowing on the 18th.
LEE WESTWOOD: It’s Tim Barter; every time I talk to him, he makes me want to cry.

No, I think it’s to do with handling my emotions really well on the golf course, and when it’s all over, that’s the time it just releases and I can let myself go. It just happens to be that Tim’s always there (laughing.)

CLARE BODEL: Quickly, hate to tell you, but you’re not the first, but you’re in a very elite group along with Des Smyth and Mark McNulty.

Q. On the Senior Tour or European Tour only?
CLARE BODEL: We’ll work it out.

Q. You’ve talked to us a lot in the last couple of years about just going out there, and there is still a massive competitive drive that is still coursing in your veins.
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, Ben has instilled in me the fact that I’m playing the game I love for a living, and I should enjoy it, and sometimes it gets to the point where you don’t enjoy it enough.

You know, we’re lucky to be doing what we’re doing, and a lot of people are far less fortunate. I’ve tried to go out, if things are going wrong, I don’t really lose my temper anymore. I’ve never been a club breaker, but I don’t really get wound up too much. I’ve become much more analytical and less emotional on the golf course.

He’s tried to impart that on me, and I think that’s just spreading through my whole game and my putting everything, and I’m on a very even keel; and if the ball doesn’t go in, the ball doesn’t go in. The only thing I can control are the movement and the actions I’m doing to roll it on line to the hole. It might hit something or I might misread it, but I brush it off and move on to the next, and it’s served me well.

Yeah, that’s kind of the way I’m trying to play it now.

Q. You’ve shown you’re just a big softy, really.

Q. You’ve shown you’re a big softy, really.
LEE WESTWOOD: I’ve always known I’ve been a big softy.

Q. Is that why it means more to you, maybe you thought these days were gone? And even before Sun City, because it had been a few years, hadn’t it.
LEE WESTWOOD: I certainly wasn’t playing well enough and hitting the ball well enough and putting well enough to win golf tournaments.

Yeah, ’98, ’99, 2000, ’98 I think I won eight tournaments in one year, and 2000 I won eight tournaments and year and ’99 I won seven or something stupid like that, and they were coming along like taxis, and I didn’t appreciate it enough, I don’t think, and now I appreciate it and I appreciate all the hard work that has to go into it.

I was working hard back then, but winning was coming easy, and I think that’s just because I was a young man and I was rolling with the momentum of it all.

Q. I think Tim mentioned you’re up to 29th in the World Rankings and that gets you in all the majors and WGCs. What’s that mean to qualify so early in the new season and have the assurance of being in those events?
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, you can make a plan, can’t you. You can schedule a little bit better. I was going to play this week, Dubai and Saudi and then I wasn’t sure when I was going to play again. I know I’m going to play at the Honda in Palm Beach Gardens, but I didn’t know whether I would be going into Mexico the week before and I didn’t know whether I would be in the Match Play.

So I probably — well, I’ll definitely go to Mexico and I’ll play the Honda, and then I might try to get a tournament in between then and the Match Play. I’m playing the week before the Masters in Texas; they have been good enough to give me an invite, and then obviously the Masters.

But I won’t play a massive amount more. I’ll still probably only play 24, 25 times a year. That’s just the way I feel like I’ve got to play now to turn up to a tournament and be in the best possible shape to compete.

I think gone are my days of playing 30, 30 events a year. I am 47 in April and body and mind just won’t take that quite as well.

Q. How do you think about Francesco Laporta? I’m an Italian journalist.
LEE WESTWOOD: I was very impressed with his game. He got a couple of brutal breaks out there in bunkers. He got a plug lie on 13, which is probably the worst lie I’ve ever seen in a bunker. And then he plugged it again under the lip on 14.

But yeah, I thought he’ll learn a lot from today I think. He needs to work on his game a little bit, but I think there’s definitely the makings of a tournament winner there.

Lee Westwood Talks Landmark Victory on European Tour

Q. This is a landmark 25th win for you on The European Tour and 44 professional wins. You had an off-season in Thailand and you tested clubs. How are you going to celebrate this now?
LEE WESTWOOD: 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.

Q. As impressive as your putting was throughout this week, even your driving was outstanding. I thought it was one of the best exhibition of driving from anyone in the field this week. Just talk to us about the driving aspect.
LEE WESTWOOD: I’ll tell you a little story — my driving was very good this week,, but it’s down to the work I’ve done with Robert Rock.

He sent me a text last night and he said, “Don’t tell me that I’ve actually won something that you’ve never won.”

And I said, “Give me a day.” So I can’t wait to text him (laughter). So now he’s not won something I haven’t won. I’ve got my name on there, as well.

But yeah, obviously the key to playing good golf is getting in the fairways, especially on a golf course like this. You know, work the ball right-to-left and left-to-right whenever I wanted to and I hit a lot of fairways. I think I hit the most out of everybody before the final round. Golf courses like this play easier if you can play from the fairway.

Lee Westwood previews next week’s Dubai Desert Classic

Q. Next week, Dubai Desert Classic, is now the only tournament in the UAE that you have not won. You’ve even won The Race to Dubai. It’s like the UAE quadruple waiting for you to happen over there. How are you looking forward to that now?
LEE WESTWOOD: I’m just looking forward to Dubai Desert Classic, anyway, because I think it’s one of the best tournaments on The European Tour calendar.

I love playing the Emirates Golf Club. Hence, I played well in the past. I finished second a couple of times. A bit unlucky to lose to Miguel in a playoff a few years back.

So I’m looking forward to going back there with some form and you’ll see me on the range tomorrow afternoon working on my swing and preparing properly for Thursday to try and hit that first shot down the fairway and go on from there. Carry the form in from this week.

Q. When you walk on the range next week and all the young guys congratulate you and shake your hand —
LEE WESTWOOD: I’ll have no idea —

Q. What will you say —
LEE WESTWOOD: I’ll have no idea who most of them are. I suddenly realized a few months ago why everyone has their name on their golf bags; it’s for people on me; you walk along there, who is that lad on the range hitting it 330 yards.

I’m always open to people coming and asking questions, yeah.

Q. If you were asked, in a short sentence, what’s the key to winning over four decades?
LEE WESTWOOD: Hard work. Yeah, you’ve got to be dedicated and you’ve got to love it and you’ve got to love practicing. Because there’s no shortcuts. It’s just hard work. You know, when you think about leaving the range in one afternoon, going and sitting by the pool or having a beer or something like that (shaking head) stay on the range another hour.

A few years back, there was Tiger, myself and Vijay were the last three on the range, and it wasn’t a coincidence that the best players are the hardest workers.

Q. Your amazing Ryder Cup career, and then it seemed to end on that jarring note in Hazeltine last time. Just wonder how much you’d relish the chance to put that right in Wisconsin?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, I didn’t really feel that jarred by Hazeltine. You know, I’ve been on losing Ryder Cup teams, and I’ve been on seven winning ones. It’s a big honor to represent Europe in The Ryder Cup.

I was joking when I said, you know, I would love to play another Ryder Cup as long as I’m good enough. I wouldn’t want a pick, but if I qualified, I would definitely play.

So you know, I’ll be trying my hardest, there’s no doubt about that, but you can’t control qualifying for a Ryder Cup Team. You can only control what you do that particular week, and obviously like this week, you win lots of points and it moves you up the list. I’ll just be trying to do the small things right and it will lead on to the big things, like qualifying for The Ryder Cup Team and other things like that.

CLARE BODEL: Thank you, everyone. Congratulations again, Lee.

January 19, 2020

Abu Dhabi, UAE

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports