Sport Golf

Saturday 25 March 2017

Dream comes true for 'best on the planet' Westwood

Lee Westwood last night celebrated the most satisfying moment in his career -- but only after a supermarket trip "to buy rubber gloves and mashed potatoes."

Westwood, who will be officially confirmed as the new World No 1 this morning, had been keeping an eye on Martin Kaymer's progress all week, and that extended to monitoring the European Tour's website in Sainsbury's as he ran errands yesterday.

The champagne duly flowed at home later as Westwood reflected on a remarkable turnaround in fortunes which sees him become Europe's first World No 1 since Nick Faldo in 1994, seven years after slumping to 266th in the rankings.

Asked if it was the most satisfying moment in his career, the 37-year-old said: "Yes I think so. It's a dream everyone has to say there is nobody better than me at the moment. You have to say it's a highlight. It's a great honour and a big responsibility. It certainly sounds and feels good right now.

"When you are growing up and people say what do you want to achieve, everyone says I want to be the best in the world. Right at this moment I can show people the world rankings and say I am the best on the planet."

Westwood will quickly come face-to-face with the man he deposed as the best, with Woods among the field at the forthcoming WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai.

And the Englishman expects some good-natured banter from the 14-time major champion in China.

"I have a great relationship with Tiger," added Westwood, who travels to Shanghai this afternoon.

"We have mutual respect and have always got on well, on and off the course. I give him a little bit of stick and he gives me a little. When Tiger was in his pomp everyone thought it (being No 1) was unattainable.

"But form comes and goes -- I'm a perfect example of that -- and when we started to get a bit nearer the top of the rankings we started to think it was obtainable."

All that is now missing from Westwood's CV is a Major championship, with several recent near misses helping propel him to the top of the rankings.

But Westwood is not putting any extra pressure on himself to break his duck now that he is World No 1. "I don't think it adds to the pressure, there's enough as it is," he added.

"It's a confidence boost if anything. It's confirmation that I'm working on the right things more than anything. This is nothing but a positive thing.

"Winning Majors is something you learn to do. You get into position as often as possible and try not to make the same mistakes again. I have seen most things by now and, hopefully, I will know what to do."

Irish Independent

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