Westwood's injury returns – but it may still let him hop above Tiger

Every bubble eventually bursts, or at least deflates, and for Lee Westwood yesterday the post-Ryder Cup euphoria blew up in his face. His hopes of playing his way into world No 1 position on Sunday were all but crushed when his calf injury flared up during the first round of the Dunhill Links Championship.

Westwood "felt it coming on walking off the seventh tee down a steep downslope" and considered withdrawing from the £3.1m event. And even though the physiotherapist gave him the all clear to continue, it is understood he will then take a month's break. There are obvious concerns about his immediate future.

"Steve [McGregor, his fitness coach] says it won't be right for six months," said Westwood. "All the big events this year are gone for me. I got myself back to the Ryder Cup and didn't let anyone down. But the most important thing now is to be in good physical condition for the Masters."

Westwood spoke to McGregor last night, who assured him it would not make the injury any worse if he played on here, but also advised that a four-week rest would then be in order.

It was plainly a huge blow for Westwood who was in such good form last week. Bizarrely, however, he will probably still graduate to the top of the rankings even if he falls short here and then decides to hang up his spikes. Indeed, if he doesn't tee it up again until the end of October and if, as expected, none of Woods, Phil Mickelson or Steve Stricker plays competitively in that spell, he will become the first Englishman since Nick Faldo in 1994 to assume the top spot. That would not be the worst consolation as he hands over the Order of Merit title, as now seems certain.

"Playing two weeks in a row was probably too much in hindsight," admitted Westwood. "I should have gone back to rehab. I'm going to go and get treatment, but I don't want to get back to where it was. I don't want to be stupid, that's the problem. I made a mistake going to the Bridgestone. It's difficult because I've never been injured before and don't know how careful I've got to be. If it had happened yesterday I would have pulled out."

In fact, there were suspicions at Celtic Manor last week that Westwood's ruptured plantaris muscle was proving troublesome, despite his belief it had recovered "100 per cent" in the seven weeks since he pulled out of the WGC Bridgestone Invitational in Akron. The 37-year-old hinted as much as he limped off this spectacular layout, one of three Fife courses being used for this prestigious pro-am.

"Did adrenaline get me through the Ryder Cup? Yeah, I think so," said Westwood. "I was warned by Steve and Chubby [Chandler, his agent] not to be the martyr and play five matches. I didn't because of the changed format – but I still played four days and it was a hilly golf course. And this is a hilly course, probably the hilliest of three we play here. I didn't hit any balls on Tuesday and I didn't do anything on Wednesday. I just hit a few balls. The problem is down my right leg and the right leg is quite key to swinging the golf club."

In the event, he did well to post a two-under 70, four off the leading group including Scotland's Martin Laird and the Ryder Cup vice-captain, Thomas Bjorn. Of the nine Ryder Cup winners playing, Martin Kaymer fared best with a four-under 68. The German was alongside Colin Montgomerie – who shot a 72 – with the Europe captain expressing how much he relished being "just" a player again.

"There were 30 to 40 people watching me when I teed off at 9.11am and it was joyous only to have that amount watching me," said Montgomerie, who has fallen out of the world's top 400. "I enjoyed playing today without any added pressure on my back."

Rory McIlroy will certainly feel some of that today as the marquee players move on to the Old Course at St Andrews, with Carnoustie to follow tomorrow. After a one-under 71, the young Ulsterman said: "The last time I played at St Andrews on a Friday I shot an 80." The bad news for McIlroy is that 30mph winds are forecasted; just like they were at the Open in July.

First-round scores

Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, St Andrews, Carnoustie & Kingsbarns, Scotland (GB & Irl unless stated, par 72):

St Andrews 66 T Bjorn (Swe); R Gonzalez (Arg). 67 K Ferrie; D Willett. 68 R Bland; M Erlandsson (Swe); A McLean; P Waring; C Carranza (Arg); G Storm; S Dodd; J Donaldson; C Coetzee (SA). 69 M Lundberg (Swe); M Siem (Ger); F Aguilar (Chile); G Boyd; D McKenzie (Aus); S Gallacher; S Lowry; P Martin (Sp). 70 J Lima (Por); R Rock; M Warren; A Canete (Arg); P Hedblom (Swe); J Edfors (Swe); R McGowan; T Levet (Fr). 71 J Elson; R Jan Derksen (Neth); P Lawrie; O Henningsson (Swe); S O'Hara; J Quesne (Fr). 72 M Wiegele (Aut); G Lockerbie; M Ruiz (Par); A Butterfield; R McEvoy; R Echenique (Arg); M Brown (NZ); O Fisher. 73 D Drysdale; G Murphy; M Both (Aus); M Jonzon (Swe); J Morrison; G Havret (Fr); T Fisher Jnr (SA). 74 J Huldahl (Den). 75 M Foster. 76 P Whiteford; J Geary (NZ). 77 K Mcnicoll.

Carnoustie 66 M Lafeber (Neth). 67 T Wilkinson (NZ). 68 R Finch. 69 A Kang (US); R Ramsay; T Aiken (SA); J Kingston (SA); D Dixon; D Lynn; R Jacquelin (Fr). 70 J Gonnet (Fr); P Price; A Canizares (Sp); M Griffin (Aus). 71 A Hansen (Den); R Green (Aus); I Garrido (Sp); J Kamte (SA). 72 H Otto (SA); G Maybin; B Barham; S Hansen (Den); J Norris (Aus); A Noren (Swe); R Kulacz (Aus); M Brier (Aut); P Archer; G Fdez-Castano (Sp). 73 S Hutsby; A Wall; J Sandelin (Swe); N Colsaerts (Bel); S Strange (Aus); T Goya (Arg); B Dredge. 74 M Campbell (NZ); S Little; F Andersson Hed (Swe); D Horsey; P O'Malley (Aus). 75 P Sjoland (Swe); G Bhullar (India); M Manassero (It); J M Lara (Sp). 76 D Garza (US); N Fasth (Swe). 77 B Pieters (SA); C Muniyappa (India); L Mckechnie (Aus); T Van Aswegen (SA); S S P Chowrasia (India); J Randhawa (India). 78 P Edberg (Swe). 79 F Delamontagne (Fr). 80 B Rumford (Aus). 82 J Van de Velde (Fr).

Kingsbarns 66 M Laird. 67 S Kjeldsen (Den); J Parry; F Zanotti (Par). 68 D Vancsik (Arg); R Coles; M Kaymer (Ger); A Quiros (Sp). 69 A Da Silva (Br); R Fisher; D Howell; A Coltart; G Bourdy (Fr); V Dubuisson (Fr); S Dyson. 70 S Webster; G McDowell; E Els (SA); P Lawrie; L Westwood. 71 R McIlroy; S Hend (Aus); M Ilonen (Fin); R Davies; M Hoey; P Harrington; P Larrazabal (Sp). 72 C Cevaer (Fr); F Molinari (It); D McGrane; O Wilson; C Montgomerie; P Gustafsson (Swe); N Dougherty; S Khan. 73 A Haig (SA); C Wood; R Goosen (SA); J Luiten (Neth); G Coetzee (SA); T Pilkadaris (Aus); C Scott (Aus); S Thornton; E Molinari (It). 74 P Hanson (Swe); S Kapur (India); A Dodt (Aus); R Cabrera Bello (Sp); P McGinley. 75 J Daly (US); A Forsyth; A Hall (Aus). 76 K Horne (SA); J Lucquin (Fr); D Clarke. 77 R Karlsson (Swe).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power