Westwood banishes fatigue to beat Montgomerie in play-off

For the past eight months Darren Clarke has been able to call himself a world champion, and now his friend and rival Lee Westwood can too. Clarke won the Andersen Consulting World Championship in February by beating Tiger Woods in the final. Westwood finally defeated Colin Montgomerie, whose West Course performances have been Tiger-like of late, at the 38th hole to win the Cisco World Match Play yesterday morning. "We're going to unify the title in our next practice round, like boxing," Westwood said.

For the past eight months Darren Clarke has been able to call himself a world champion, and now his friend and rival Lee Westwood can too. Clarke won the Andersen Consulting World Championship in February by beating Tiger Woods in the final. Westwood finally defeated Colin Montgomerie, whose West Course performances have been Tiger-like of late, at the 38th hole to win the Cisco World Match Play yesterday morning. "We're going to unify the title in our next practice round, like boxing," Westwood said.

The relevance of this event, run by Mark McCormack's International Management Group and this year lacking any top-ranking Americans, has been questioned since the arrival of the World Championship events, which are run by the tours.

But the determination of both finalists was testament that it is worth its place on the schedule and Westwood was delighted to receive a trophy whose past 36 winners include some of the great names of the game. "I'm delighted to win a title as prestigious as this," he said. "You can't really compare titles. The one thing the World Championships don't have is history, but then this tournament doesn't have the top 64 in the world. I thought the quality of golf throughout this tournament was great.

"I had to play my socks off against Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els and Monty. To beat Monty on a course he knows probably better than anyone gives me real satisfaction. To go head-to-head with the best players in the world is an exciting format."

Montgomerie, the defending champion, had won four times in his last five visits to Wentworth. He was 37 under par for 102 holes during the week, Westwood 33 under for 109. It was Monty's seventh play-off defeat in eight attempts, Westwood's seventh play-off win of out eight. The only difference between them was a pair of fine putts by Westwood at the 35th and the 38th. "It was always going to be close because we are so close in standard," Montgomerie said. "I'm not ashamed to have lost today. Lee has had a great year and he is favourite to take another of my titles and I'm going to have to play very well to prevent that."

Westwood currently leads the Order of Merit, with Montgomerie sixth. There should be an exciting climax in Spain next month, and although this event does not count, it did provide Westwood with his sixth win in Europe this season, equalling the record of Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo and, last year, Montgomerie.

A healthy gallery of around 3,000 were on parade, presumably some of whom should have been at work, but the scoring did not live up to the standards of the previous day, with Montgomerie's 68 one better than Westwood.

The final's first bogey came at the second (the 20th), when Westwood, who admitted to being shattered after playing 42 holes on Sunday, missed the green and failed to get up and down. Monty put his approach at the sixth to two feet to square the match and holed from 11 feet at the eighth to go one up.

The Scot had led for only one hole on Sunday but now held it to the 13th, where he bunkered his approach after Westwood had gone close. It needed the odd mistake to enhance the brilliance of the previous day's golf, but it was completely out of character for Montgomerie to make two in a row. His long lag-putt at the next did not quite make it up the tier, leaving a six-footer which did not break as he expected.

But Westwood promptly gave back his lead by taking three putts at the 15th, missing from four feet for the half. So to the two par-five finishing holes where fortunes can fluctuate with every shot.

While Monty made the green at the 17th, producing a monstrous hit with his three-wood and two-putting for his birdie, Westwood had finished short of the green and pitched 20 feet past only to hole the putt to prevent going one down. "That was vital," said Monty "In matchplay, you have to expect the worst and then anything else is a bonus, but, yes, I was surprised he holed it."

Neither made the green at the last, but Westwood pitched delicately over a bunker to three feet. Monty's chip came up eight feet short, but it was his turn to hole out bravely and ensure the final went into extra holes for the first time since 1982.

By now the rains had returned, but the first was halved in pars and a similar scenario looked likely at the short second. Montgomerie was just the closer, but when Westwood holed from 18 feet the Scot could not respond.

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