Golf: Westwood anticipates fiery Tiger in Boston

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LEE WESTWOOD yesterday said he expects to see Tiger Woods breathing fire at next September's Ryder Cup. Westwood, receiving Europe's Golfer of the Year award, believes America's crushing Presidents Cup defeat in Australia this weekend will make them twice as determined to win back the Ryder Cup.

"I'm already looking forward to it immensely," said the 25-year-old from Worksop, celebrating a season during which he won seven times and picked up prize-money in excess of pounds 1.6m. "They are going to be keen to stick it to us. They got a bit of a trouncing. There's nothing to compare with the Ryder Cup and I can't imagine what it will be like in Boston. There'll be thousands of Irish there for a start."

Never previously beaten by the International side - the Rest of the World minus Europe - the Americans were demolished 201/2-111/2 in Melbourne. Now Westwood would like to see Europe take on Greg Norman, Ernie Els and company. "I think there's room for it and I don't think it would devalue the Ryder Cup," he said. "It's always nice to test yourself against the best and we don't have much match play."

Westwood has signed a three-year deal with clothing company Lyle and Scott. Without revealing figures, the chief executive, Robert Kimpton, said the contract was the biggest in the company's history. It could well be worth seven figures if Westwood starts winning majors. "His fearless determination and charming personality have been the perfect attributes for us," said Kimpton. "He was an inspired choice when we signed him up four years ago and we look forward to him realising all his ambitions."

Among Westwood's targets for 1999 is Woods' world No 1 spot - and he would like to thank the 22-year-old Californian for already helping him into the top 10.

"Tiger's arrival on the scene a couple of years ago gave me a kick up the backside. I knew we had to work hard otherwise he'd get away from us. I don't think I'm quite at his level yet, but all the time I'm learning and maturing.