Putting the key as Lee Westwood looks to gatecrash the party in Dubai
Coming off a phenomenal ball-striking week that led to a successful defence of his Nedbank Challenge title in Sun City, Lee Westwood is all set to spoil what should be a Luke Donald or Rory McIlroy’s party in this week’s Dubai World Championship.
Having made the putt that netted him $2.75million ($1.25m for winning the DWC and $1.5m Race to Dubai bonus pool share) in 2009, both recent form and history at the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estate makes Westwood the pre-tournament favourite.
A course-record 62 on Saturday in Sun City gave him a whopping seven-shot lead over the quality field going into the final day, and he could even afford the luxury of making bogeys on his last two holes and still win by two shots.
Even a victory on Sunday will not help Westwood win the Race to Dubai for a second time in three years, but back-to-back tournament wins will definitely set up the next season very well for him.
The world No3, who finished third here last year, said: “It is nice to come in here with that kind of form and come back to a golf course where I finished first and third, and had a chance to win last year. I always play pretty well in Dubai and I am looking forward to this week.
“The 64 I shot in the final round to win here in 2009 was good, but the 62 on Saturday was a bit better. I can’t recall missing a shot. I hit a 6 iron about three yards left of where I was aiming on the 12th, and that was about it.”
Westwood, who was simply sensational in winning the inaugural Dubai World Championship with rounds of 66, 69, 66 and 64 for a 23-under par 265 total, believes he can repeat his act if only his putter behaves as well as it did last week.
“My putting has not been as good as I would have liked it. Proof of that was really last week. If I had a week where I putt and hole my fair share, I’m leading by seven going into the final round. If I have a week where I am putting just okay, I have a chance of winning. And if I have a week where I don’t putt very good at all, it seems like I finish 10th to 20th,” said the Worksop-based former world No.1.
“That really shows the level where my game is at. I think everybody’s beatable. But they would have to play very well if I am putting well. The weeks that I’ve done well recently – I can think of here when I won by six and Nedbank last year where I won by eight…
“I’d just like to putt better more often really. That’s just what I’m working on at the moment and it’s improving. I felt a lot better last week, and I think I definitely turned the corner working with Phil Kenyon.”