by Jeff Skinner
The shootout that the European Tour hoped would happen at The Dubai World Championship never really materialized, thanks to Lee Westwood. Sitting at number two in the European Tour Money list, Westwood wasted no time in pulling away from the field when he birdied two of the first three holes. Ross McGowan who started two strokes back of Westwood could not keep up Westwood’s sizzling pace as he birdied five of the first seven holes on his way to an opening front side 31.
Westwood shot a bogey free final round, hitting every fairway and green and setting a new course record 64. With only two bogeys all tournament and 25 birdies, Westwood played a brand of golf that no player could match. He finished six ahead of McGowan and eight ahead of Rory McIlroy. McIlroy had led the Race to Dubai coming into The Championship but was unable to match Westwood’s pace.
With the win Westwood pockets $2.75 million and the Race to Dubai Championship. Afterward an emotional Westwood called it his “biggest moment of his golfing career.” With a wide smile he said it was “about as good as I ever played under this kind of pressure.” Recalling his past Order of Merit win in 2000 and his subsequent fall to 250th in the world in 2002, Westwood fought back tears as he said there was “a phase when I didn’t want to play.” He credited his caddy, Billy Foster, with imploring him to concentrate on his own game and not worry what the others were doing. It was a prudent strategy that enabled him to claim the biggest prize of his career.
Westwood finished tied for third in the last two majors this year. When asked what this win means for 2010 Westwood chose to say he’ll let this win sink in for awhile but wanted “more wins and maybe a major or two.”