Major boost for red-hot Westwood
LEE WESTWOOD surged to a seven-shot victory over US Masters champion Charl Schwartzel in the Thailand Championship yesterday on the back of the "best golf" of his career.
"I've amazed myself really," said Westwood, who shot a three-under 69 to finish on 266.
"It's been staggering. It's the best I've ever played and it fills me full of confidence for next year."
Darren Clarke completed a disappointing week with a 77, which left him on 297, 31 shots behind Westwood.
Westwood held an 11-stroke lead after the second round, following a ridiculous opening two rounds of 60 and 64, which broke all sorts of records to take him to 20-under-par.
But following a nerve-filled Saturday and then a tense start to the fourth round, Schwartzel cut the gap to two on the par-four 12th as he watched a 40-footer drop.
However, after missing from 18 inches for birdie on the 11th, as Schwartzel eagled the par-five, Westwood responded by sinking a 20-footer for birdie.
"I knew that was the moment, that was the time I had to start rolling in the long putts," said Westwood.
"I haven't been able to do that under pressure for a long, long time, but after that they started going in. That's probably why I feel more confident now than last year. My putting's really starting to improve."
Westwood's 69 saw him close out at 22-under for the 37th title of his career.
"This is a proper golf course and it was a good field," he added. "I was up against the US Masters champion over the weekend and came through. It's brilliant to finish the year on a high."
Westwood will holiday in Barbados over the New Year, before travelling to Dubai in the second week of January for intense training.
First up in 2012 will be the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship, where the world's top four will be attendance as well as Tiger Woods.
"It's only five weeks away and I just hope I can play like I have here," said Westwood. "I've been No 1 and while it's always nice to go up the rankings, my sights are really set on the Majors next year. It's been a great time, but it is time we started knocking off a few Majors."
Ian Poulter would doubtless say amen to that. But then, the colourful character from Milton Keynes has always aimed high.
Yesterday, he picked up the 15th win of his career with an impressive charge at the Victoria Club in Melbourne.
Two behind Geoff Ogilvy, the former US Open champion, Poulter took just one hole to bridge the gap when firing a spectacular five-wood off the tee to 15 feet.
With Ogilvy only parring, Poulter was on level terms and he used the momentum to construct a lead he was never to forsake with two more birdies on the front nine.
A commendable 67 in tough conditions saw him eventually prevail by three shots from Marcus Fraser, the local hero.
"It was flawless, the whole day. I was very happy how I approached every shot and hit my targets," said Poulter, who climbed back into the world's top 20. "I've been chilled all week and today was a day for patience."
Luke Donald, the world No 1, finished on four-under, 11 behind Poulter. (© Independent News Service)