Sunday 18 February 2018

Lee Westwood aims for 10th Ryder Cup appearance

Danny Willett, pictured, hopes to beat Rory McIlroy and win the Race to Dubai
Danny Willett, pictured, hopes to beat Rory McIlroy and win the Race to Dubai

The circumstances are not ideal, but Lee Westwood hopes returning to the European Tour can reinvigorate his game and secure a 10th consecutive Ryder Cup appearance next year.

Westwood has given up his PGA Tour membership as he goes through a divorce from his wife of 16 years Laurae, moving back to the UK from their home in Florida to be close to their two children.

The 42-year-old won the Indonesian Masters in April but has slipped down the world rankings to his current position of 44th, with a place in the top 50 vital to secure entry to majors and World Golf Championship events next season.

"I've dropped a lot in the world rankings this year, so I need to address that and play well and get myself in the top 50 so I'm in all the events over in the States," Westwood said ahead of this week's British Masters at Woburn.

"But I'll play predominately the European Tour for personal reasons so I can be where I need to be.

"Li ving in the States, my game didn't really sort of move in the direction I wanted it to, but obviously that's not the reason I'm doing all this. I've always had priorities in life. I've always said that golf is not my main priority, but obviously the kids are."

Westwood first reached world number one in October 2010, ending the record 281-week spell of Tiger Woods, and enjoyed a second spell at the top of rankings the following April.

And although Westwood admits golf does not mean as much to him as it did five or 10 years ago, he insists he can get back to the upper echelons of the game.

"I don't see any reason why not," Westwood added. "Get my ducks in a row and I can focus on golf again. There's no sort of magic wand you can ever wave. You just have to go back to basics and do the drills and do the work, the hard work on the range that makes you hit it straight and close.

"I 'm prepared to work hard. I'm in pretty good shape. I've got 42-year-old niggles but the back is still in good shape and knees and hips and shoulders are all good. It's just down to hard work, really.

"Unfortunately this year I've not really had time or been able to put into it, so it's no surprise that the game has suffered a little bit. We know how mental the game of golf is, as well, so mentally a lot has been going on which has affected me in the head.

"There's different things going on, but gradually I'm trying to sort everything out."

As for the Ryder Cup, Westwood would love to make it 10 in a row as a player at Hazeltine next year, but with good friend Darren Clarke the European captain, he is certain to be involved in some capacity.

" I played the last nine so I obviously would like to keep going," added Westwood, who needed a wild card from Paul McGinley for last year's win at Gleneagles.

"I enjoy playing in them. They probably give you the biggest buzz of any golf tournament that we play. You get more nerves and bigger thrill from the Ryder Cup than you do any other tournament.

"I always like to be involved as a player and coming back to Europe might give me a better chance of doing that. If I'm not involved as a player, I'd like be involved in the backroom at some level. I'd like to help Darren out with the other stuff, with a view to obviously be a captain at some point during the next few years."

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