Lee’s double delight in Nedbank Golf Challengeon December 4, 2011
With a final round of 73 for a total of 15 under, Westwood joined Seve Ballesteros (1983 and 1984, David Frost (1989 and 1990), Nick Price (1997 and 1998), Ernie Els (1999 and 2000), and Jim Furyk (2005 and 2006) as the only players to have defended their titles in the 31-year history of this event. “I’m delighted. It’s a great tournament to win. You just have to look at the names on the trophy to realise how special it is. It’s not the winning margin that is important to me, but it’s the coming back and defending the title that is so satisfying,” said Westwood.
Sweden’s Robert Karlsson finished second on 13 under with a closing 68, while Jason Dufner and Graeme McDowell shared third place on 11 under. But the title was destined to go the way of Westwood following his brilliant 62 in the third round, which earned him a seven-stroke lead going into the final day. McDowell and Dufner did their best to make a contest of it. McDowell started well with three birdies in his first four holes, and made birdies at holes nine and 10 to try and apply some sort of pressure to Westwood. And Dufner birdied 10 then holed out with his second from down the fairway on the par-four 11th. Westwood threatened to give them a chance when he bogeyed 12 and then left himself a 10-foot putt to save par on 13. He made the putt, and was four ahead of McDowell and Dufner. But both his challengers faltered at the par-four 15th, each with a double bogey there that ended their challenge. Karlsson made his own run over the closing holes with three birdies, and a single bogey, from the 14th.
But such was Westwood’s lead that he could afford to bogey 17 and 18 and still win by two. “It wasn’t going to be easy going out with a big lead. When you’ve got a big lead you’re never sure how to play. I tried to break it down and hit fairways and greens. I kept it on the safe side whenever I could, and on the back nine I tried to play conservatively. That 62 was so special and I was never going to replicate it.”
Westwood also enjoyed the local support he received. “I seem to have a lot of fans down here and have had a lot of support since I’ve been coming down here since 1994. It was great out there and they were right behind me. “I’d love to be the first to win three in a row. But I want to enjoy this one first. I’ll have a couple of glasses of champagne on this one.”