Lee Westwood broke down in tears after his BMW International Open victory here last night as he admitted how close he came to quitting the game during three years without a single win.
Westwood carded a final-round 66 at Nord-Eichenried for a 19-under total of 269 and a three-shot victory over Germany's Alex Cejka. The 30-year-old from Worksop had not won since the last of his seven victories worldwide in 2000, which saw him end Colin Montgomerie's seven-year reign as European No 1.
He had slumped from a high of fourth in the world to 215th at the start of the week - and failed to record a single top-10 finish last season - but seven months of hard work with the coach David Leadbetter have finally paid off.
"I'm fairly emotional," admitted Westwood, who backed himself at 66-1 to win the tournament at the start of the week. "This is a big moment. There were times when I thought about putting the clubs away and not ever getting them out again and calling it a day, but that would have been the easy thing to do.
"I battled it out and hopefully this is one of many rewards. I've won a little sooner than I thought I might have but it's just great to win a tournament again. I won 24 times in four years and knew I wouldn't lose the feeling of how to win."
"It's really special," he added. "The last three years have obviously been the worst of my career but you find out a lot of things about yourself and people around you."
Westwood started the day three shots off the lead and looked to be dropping out of contention when he opened with six pars and then three-putted the seventh for bogey.
However, a birdie on the ninth kick-started his challenge and, walking off the 10th tee, he correctly predicted that an inward nine of 30 would win the title.
Three birdies in succession quickly followed from the 11th, the latter from a matter of inches after a superb approach shot, and took him level with Cejka on 16 under as the overnight leader Robert Karlsson's hopes nosedived with a double-bogey six on the 10th, the 1997 champion three-putting from 10 feet.
Cejka's bogey on the 16th then left Westwood out in front and he took full advantage, firing his second shot to within two feet of the hole for birdie on 16, before clinching victory by chipping in for another birdie on the next.
Westwood's brother-in-law Andrew Coltart made it a family affair with a share of third place on 15 under, alongside the English duo of Paul Casey and Gary Evans, Peter Hedblom of Sweden and France's Raphael Jacquelin.
BMW International Open (Munich); Leading final scores (GB & Irl unless stated): 269 L Westwood 65 68 70 66. 272 A Cejka (Ger) 69 66 70 67. 273 P Hedblom (Swe) 66 66 74 67, A Coltart 70 70 65 68, P Casey 65 69 70 69, R Jacquelin (Fra) 62 69 71 71, G Evans 66 68 68 71. 274 J Bickerton 67 68 68 71, M Siem (Ger) 64 70 68 72, R Karlsson (Swe) 65 64 71 74. 275 T Immelman (SA) 69 67 72 67, G Emerson 64 68 73 70, S Gallacher 67 66 72 70, D Howell 64 71 70 70, B Davis 68 69 65 73. 276 C Rodiles (Spa) 71 69 69 67. 277 E Els (Rsa) 68 71 74 64, S Kjeldsen (Den) 69 67 71 70, A Raitt 70 69 68 70, P McGinley 69 66 70 72, T Bjorn (Den) 64 70 70 73, M A Jimenez (Sp) 71 65 68 73. Selected: 278 B Langer (Ger) 67 72 72 67.Reuse content