Westwood stays on top of the world despite losing to Molinari

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Lee Westwood will return home brimming with confidence despite the new world No 1 missing out on the HSBC Champions by a stroke to Francesco Molinari. Westwood could only match the Italian's final round of 67 at Sheshan International GC to finish 18 under par for the tournament, one back from his rival who clinched his second European Tour title.

Despite falling short, Westwood was heartened by a fabulous performance coming after an extended lay-off due to calf and ankle injuries he is yet to fully overcome. "I hit a lot of good shots and a couple of poor ones today," he said. "I also had a bit of bad luck. I mean, 18-under par and nine shots clear of the third is never too bad."

There was little to choose between either player throughout the four days, with the 16th hole of the final round ultimately proving pivotal. Westwood let rip with a three-wood at the short par-four but landed in a tricky spot just short of the green. Molinari found the rough with an iron but hit a great second shot to around 10 feet.

Westwood faced an awkward chip but his attempt just cleared the bunker in front of him, coming to rest in the rough near the edge of the green. He recovered to make par but Molinari sank his fifth birdie of the day to establish a two-stroke advantage.

"Two bogeys on the week so there's not many negatives. I hit some good shots down the stretch, fabulous five-iron into 18, I thought I was a little bit unlucky to release up that slope," Westwood added. "Not really any negatives other than that I didn't win the tournament but sometimes somebody plays a bit better and that's what Francesco did. He deserved to win, he played well. I just needed the breaks to win but it didn't happen. The rankings come as a consequence of playing well, and I'm playing well. Today is just typical of how I've played for the last two years."

Luke Donald and Richie Ramsay shared third, a distant 10 shots back from the winner. Tiger Woods climbed into a share of sixth on seven under par following a 68 that saw the former world No 1 card seven birdies but three bogeys.