Westwood takes European money title

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The Independent Online

Lee Westwood today ended Colin Montgomerie's seven-year reign as Europe's top money winner.

Lee Westwood today ended Colin Montgomerie's seven-year reign as Europe's top money winner.

Westwood shot a 5-under-par 67 in the final round of the season-ending American Express Championship, picking up enough prize money to overtake Darren Clarke, who was No 1 entering the season-ending event.

Westwood, by winning the $500,000 second-place check after finishing two shots behind Canadian winner Mike Weir, saw his season money total finish at £1,858,602 ($2,657,780).

Clarke, who shot a 2-under 70 today to finish back in the pack at even-par 288, finished with European tour winnings of £1,616,602 ($2,311,740).

Montgomerie, who had to win the $1 million first prize to have any chance of claiming his eighth straight, ballooned to a 2-over 74 and far off the pace at 1-over par 289.

Westwood, 27, said it might have been the most nerve-wracking round of his career as he edged out his closest friend on the PGA European Tour.

"It is more emotional than I have ever been," he said. "There was nothing quite like today playing that well under this kind of pressure. I think if you watch the highlights tonight you'll see my knees shaking."

Westwood said he made a £1 ($1.43) bet with Clarke back in August about who would win the season title.

"As soon as I got to the scorer's tent he (Clarke) gave it to me," Westwood said. "I'm going to go home and frame it."

Clarke blamed himself after entering the season-ending event with a £61,000 ($87,000) lead over Westwood.

"I had a chance ... to finish at the top if I played well," the Northern Irishman said. "I wasn't able to do that. I've only got myself to blame."

Montgomerie, who shot a 2-over 74 to finish on 1-over 289, wound up No. 6 on the money list with £1,035,366 ($1,480,573).

Ernie Els finished No. 3 with £1,199,707 ($1,711,810) followed by Michael Campbell with £1,185,613 ($1,695,426) and Thomas Bjorn at £1,147,614 ($1,641,088).

"It had to end some time," Montgomerie said. "You can't keep doing that. I have been fortunate to say the last 12 years I have improved every year. But this year I haven't, so it's disappointing."

Montgomerie promised to win back the title.

"They know it's only on loan. I do as well. "Having had it for so long there's a sense of loss. I always want to win gold. I have got used to it and enjoyed it."

Westwood had to finish in at least the top eight of the tournament at Valderrama to have any chance of overtaking Clarke. Any finish lower wouldn't have earned him enough money to overtake the Northern Irishman no matter what Clarke did.

Montgomerie, 37, began his string by winning the money title in 1993. Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros and Ian Woosnam had won the previous three seasons until the Scotsman came along.

Westwood failed in his bid to win a record-seventh tournament on the European tour. He shares the record of six with Ballesteros, Faldo and Montgomerie.

LEE WESTWOOD PROFILE

Born Worksop, April 24 1973 Lives: Worksop Height: 6ft Weight: 15st Family: wife Laurae Hobbies: Films, snooker, cars, Nottingham Forest Amateur: British youths champion 1993 Turned professional 1993 Ryder Cup 1997-99 Tournament wins: 24 Order of Merit: 1994 43rd, 1995 75th, 1996 6th, 1997 3rd, 1998 3rd, 1999 2nd, 2000 1st Best Major: 6th 1999 Masters Career earnings: £6million

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