England can boast the world No 1 and the world No 2 at the end of a year in which the Cross of St George has fluttered proudly on each and every professional fairway. With Lee Westwood winning here at the Thailand Golf Championship and with Ian Poulter lifting the Australian Masters title in Perth, this was the most dramatic way to lower the curtain.
Westwood labelled his seven-shot victory over Charl Schwartzel, the Masters champion, as "the best display of my career". So much for a disappointing season because of the continued absence of a major. "I've amazed myself really," said Westwood. "It's been staggering. It's the best I've ever played." This was his fourth win of 2011 and leapfrogged him above Rory McIlroy into second place in the rankings.
"English golf has probably never been stronger," he said. "And if we were another sport I'm sure there would be more headlines and it would be in the English papers every day."
If anything is to swell that ever-expanding chest of his, it is the 20-footer for birdie on the 12th at the Amata Spring Country Club which stamped on Schwartzel's fightback. Westwood held an 11-stroke lead after the second round, following a ridiculous 60-64 beginning to take him to 20-under. But following a nerve-filled Saturday and then a tense start to the fourth round, the South African had seemingly cut the gap to two on the par-four 12th as he watched a 40-footer drop. "I knew that was the moment, that was the time I had to start rolling in the long putts," said Westwood. "I haven't been able to do that under pressure for a long, long time, but after that they started going in."
This was Westwood's 37th title of his career. Yesterday's 69 saw him close out at 22-under. "It's been a great time for English golf, but it is time we started knocking off a few majors," he said.
Poulter would doubtless say Amen to that. Yesterday, he picked up the 15th win of his career with an impressive charge at the Victoria Club in Melbourne. Two behind Geoff Ogilvy, the former US Open champion, Poulter took just one hole to bridge the gap when firing in a spectacular five-wood off the tee to 15 feet.
A commendable 67 saw him eventually prevailing by three shots. "It was flawless, the whole day," said Poulter, who climbed back into the world's top 20, making it seven UK golfers in that elite group.Reuse content