Lee Westwood is not prepared to risk his long-term future over the next month simply in an effort to retain his world No 1 status. The Englishman has scrapped plans to play in next week's Singapore Open and will consider whether to play in next month's Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa.
Westwood, who ended Tiger Woods' 281-week reign at the top of the rankings last weekend, said before teeing off this morning in the first round of the WGC HSBC Champions in Shanghai that the calf injury, which has restricted him to just two outings in the last three months, "is still not right". He added: "I'm taking it gently. Just this one week."
Westwood is determined to play in the European Tour finale in Dubai at the end of this month, but if he feels any reaction he will withdraw from the following week's event in Sun City. "It's not ideal because I would like to play a run of tournaments to get a bit of form together," said the 37-year-old. "But the end of this year... I'm not going to say is a write-off, but I'm not too worried about the way I play. This part of the year is really just a gauge toward being right for the start of next season."
Westwood, who could be replaced as No 1 in China on Sunday by any one of Woods, Martin Kaymer or Phil Mickelson, gave a terse response to his countryman, Sir Nick Faldo, who suggested that the best way for Westwood to establish himself as the best player in the world would be to win a major.
"I didn't need Nick to tell me that. That's fairly obvious," said Westwood. "I've had quite a good career so far, but a major has been missing and I have performed well in the majors over the last couple of years."
Westwood also confirmed that he would not be taking up membership on the PGA Tour next year, although he suspects he may come under some pressure from his sponsors to appear more in the US.