Florida-bound Westwood aiming for title hat-trick

 

Lee Westwood begins the defence of the Nedbank Challenge Trophy in South Africa today before heading to Bangkok next week, where he lowered the course record a year ago en route to victory in the Thailand Golf Championship. Far from it representing the close of play at the end of another busy year for Westwood, his season-ending sequence that began in Dubai last week is in fact a departure.

When he said farewell to Worksop he was effectively saying hello to life as an Englishman abroad. From Bangkok Westwood flies straight to Florida to take up residence at Old Palm with his wife and children. It is, he recognises, a move he should have made some years ago. At 39 he is playing catch-up in a career that, despite the hoard of global trophies banked, 45 and counting, has yet to yield the one that matters, a major championship.

It has not been a vintage 12 months for Westwood. Only two victories, at low-key events, have seen his world ranking drop from two at the start of the season to six. For differing reasons he has dispensed with his long-time coach, Pete Cowen, and his regular caddie, Billy Foster. He did not have the best of it at the European tour finale in Dubai, fading after a promising start. Some critics believe they have detected the first signs of career decline, contrasting his modest returns with the blue-chip catalogue presently being assembled by Rory McIlroy.

Westwood does not need telling. Indeed he is tired of the conversation. Naysayers point to recurring difficulties on the greens. They will get no argument from him. It is not that Westwood cannot putt, only that the putts tend to drop at events that matter least. Westwood shot a 60 and 64 in the opening rounds in Bangkok last year. Playing-partner Charl Schwartzel, who earlier that year won his first major at the Masters, was staggered at the golf produced. "I could see a 63 or maybe a 62, but no way could I see a 60 out there," Schwartzel said in eulogy to Westwood's brilliance that day.

Westwood might blow the field away to win the Nedbank for a third consecutive year, and do the same at the Amata Spring next week, but it will not be enough to convince doubters that he is any nearer delivering on the biggest stage. In his final two weeks in Worksop Westwood barely touched a club, limiting preparation to the gym. At an end-of-season shindig at the Atlantis Hotel he drank only soft drinks. He will not resurface until Dubai next year in the first week of February, from where all roads lead to Augusta.

Westwood turns 40 a fortnight after the Masters. He hopes that by committing to the PGA Tour his game will be better assimilated to conditions in the United States, where three of the four major tournaments are held. Given that the putts drop elsewhere in the world, there is no earthly reason why they should not find the centre of American cups. The explanation arguably rests between his ears.

For now the immediate aim is to take down a smart, if small, 12-man field in South Africa, including in-form Justin Rose and major winners Louis Oosthuizen and Schwartzel. "I'd love to be the first to win three Nedbank titles in a row," Westwood said. "You just have to look at the names on the trophy to realise how special it is. Coming back and defending a title is very satisfying. That's the plan this week and next."

 



Suggested Topics
Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
News
Russia's President Vladimir Putin gives his annual televised question-and-answer session
peopleBizarre TV claim
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
Sport
Australia's Dylan Tombides competes for the ball with Adal Matar of Kuwait during the AFC U-22 Championship Group C match in January
sportDylan Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011
Arts & Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'
tv
News
Posted at the end of March, this tweeted photo was a week off the end of their Broadway shows
people
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
Arts & Entertainment
Comedian Lenny Henry is calling for more regulation to support ethnic actors on TV
tvActor and comedian leads campaign against 'lack of diversity' in British television
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Life & Style
life
Life & Style
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit