Lee Westwood | Player Profile | Nedbank Golf Challengeon October 21, 2011
Lee Westwood’s staggering eight-shot victory in the 2010 Nedbank Golf Challenge was significant in so many respects. It was a victory against an elite field of the world’s 12 best available golfers only a few weeks after he claimed the world number one ranking from Tiger Woods. It was also a victory at a Gary Player Country Club course that has held a special place in Westwood’s career.
In 2000, when the Englishman was then at the pinnacle of his career with seven victories worldwide and sitting at number one on the European Tour Order of Merit, Westwood included a victory in the Dimension Data Pro-Am at Sun City as part of his achievements that year. He was also narrowly beaten in a playoff for the Nedbank Golf Challenge by Ernie Els at the end of that year.
In 2001 he rose to fourth on the world rankings. Then he crashed to 259 in the world in 2002. One of the most natural golfers in the game suddenly didn’t have a clue what he was doing. But raised in the blue-collar mining town of Worksop, Westwood knuckled down and began working his way back to the top. He rebuilt his swing with David Leadbetter, and most importantly, took the athletic side of his profession far more seriously with a rigid gym programme and diet.
When he reached the top of the golf world in October 2010, it was only apt that he should celebrate again with a victory on the fairways at Sun City.
Westwood unseated Woods as world number one, bringing to a close an era of dominance many thought would never end. Then again, Westwood has a penchant for doing that, having also ended Colin Montgomerie’s amazing dominance of the European Tour Order of Merit in 2000. “Everyone thought it was unattainable. People go through different things in life, and form comes and goes. I know as well as anyone you can lose your form,” said the Ryder Cup veteran.
Few players have managed to transform themselves and their careers to the extent that Westwood has, and still retain the sense of humour that he displays with his quick wit on the golf course, in press conferences or on his popular Twitter account.
A winner on virtually every continent, Westwood is the true fairytale in golf, even though he is still searching for the perfectly scripted happy ending of a maiden Major victory.
However, his record at the highest level of the game is still very impressive. He’s finished second in the Masters in 2010, third in the US Open in 2008 and 2011, second in the Open Championship in 2010, and third in the PGA Championship in 2009. “My next goal is to win a Major championship. It’s the dream of all professional golfers to get to number one in the world rankings, and I’ve done that. I haven’t won a Major yet and that’s the missing thing, so that’s what I gear all my practice towards and my scheduling.”
It’s a goal his critics would do well to heed. When Westwood was 15 he told his mother, Tricia, that he wanted to become the world number one. It was Tricia who had purchased his first set of clubs from a client of her chiropodist practice, and who gave them to her son for Christmas.
All young boys have their dreams. But few make good on their promises to achieve them.
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