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November 13, 2018

Lee Westwood

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Delighted to welcome Mr. Westwood to the interview room.

LEE WESTWOOD: Thank you. It's been a while.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: You didn't know where it was when you walked in.

LEE WESTWOOD: I'd forgotten.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: How long has it been?

LEE WESTWOOD: Ten years.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: There you go.

LEE WESTWOOD: You've moved it.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Before we talk about ten years at the DP World Tour Championship, talk about Sunday.

LEE WESTWOOD: It was nice to win and finish one off. Hasn't happened for a while. I've been playing well for a few weeks. Yeah, it was good to shoot such a good round under pressure.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: I think everyone saw how emotional you were after. Have you had time to sort of reflect on it and let it sink in what you've achieved?

LEE WESTWOOD: I don't suppose it has yet. You know, I pretty much got straight on a plane Sunday night and flew here. Had a bit of a day off yesterday, some stuff to do and had a bit of a drink last night which I'm paying the price for last night, too much champagne. Didn't need that 5.00am wake-up call for the Pro-Am.

So no, it really hasn't sunk in. I haven't watched the highlights or anything. I obviously got the ringside view, but I haven't seen how it all broke down.

And no, like I said, it's just a great week and nice to play well and control everything, control my emotions and golf swing when I needed it to.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: And last from me, it must be nice to come back here to this venue and this tournament where you've done so well, after winning the first, on the 10th anniversary.

LEE WESTWOOD: It's a special tournament and one that the players want to be in. It's a celebration of having a successful year. We're playing for a lot of money this week. DP World are good sponsors, and since they came in and put this tournament on, the Tour's changed a lot in the last ten years, and it's a good finale to a long year.

Q. As mentioned you have been close, especially in Denmark, for example. What was the missing link? What brought you over the line?
LEE WESTWOOD: I suppose a bit unlucky in Denmark. I hit a couple of good putts at the end that didn't go in. Like all sports, it's doing the right thing at the right time. You know, holing the right putts with regard to momentum and doing the right things under pressure, really, and you know, something just clicked and I managed to do all that on Sunday.

Q. Particularly 16 and 17, after missing the chance on 15 to birdie the next hole.
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, I putted well all day, really. 15, sooner or later, you're going to miss one. But you know, I was hitting good putts. I misread that one on 15. The green is a bit into out of the left and I thought it was going to swing from left half and I aimed left half and it aimed straight right as soon as I hit it. Just kind of put that out of my mind and didn't let it get to me.

Hit a great putt on 16 off a tee shot that finished within a couple of yards exactly where I was aiming.

Hit a great shot into 17 with 7-iron and hit a good putt. You know, that's when I thought I won the tournament, when I birdied 17.

And then made two good swings down the last. Hit a nice 3-wood pretty much where I was looking at, at that trap and hit a 5-iron middle of the green, leaving myself 25 feet up the hill. I controlled everything coming in, really.

Q. You seem to have attracted as much attention for crying as for winning, and I don't know if you saw Jack Nicklaus's Tweet about crying, nothing to be ashamed of. Did you see that?

Q. What's your reaction when I say you seem to have attracted as much attention for crying as for winning?
LEE WESTWOOD: I think I probably attracted a little more attention for winning if we're being completely honest. I don't know what media you've been looking at.

I don't mind a little cry every now and again. I mean, I cry at films about animals and stuff like that.

So you know, it was an emotional time. If something means a lot to you, then you're going to be emotional when it turns out right and when it happens. You know, I controlled my emotions well all day when I needed to.

And to be honest, whenever I'm interviewed by Tim Barter, it makes me feel like crying.

Q. He was crying, too?
LEE WESTWOOD: I think I set him off to be fair. He was doing well until I started crying (laughter).

MICHAEL GIBBONS: He was listening to his own questions.

Q. Well, you have us laughing, anyway. Did at any time in those four years, I know you won in Asia, but at any time in that time, did any doubt set in? Were they sort of evident when you close to closing out one or two, or not?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, you doubt yourself all the time. The older you get, the more you do that, I guess, and you start so think, am I getting too old now, is it going to happen again; am I still good enough. Absolutely, it's a natural human reaction I think.

Q. Did it hold you back at all?
LEE WESTWOOD: No, no. You know, when I went through a slump in the early 2000s, you doubt yourself then. It's just when you have a lack of confidence, these things creep in. So you have to be mentally strong, and you find out what people are made of.

Q. I don't want to curtail your celebrations, but is there a point at which you don't just celebrate a brilliant win, but you think, right this could be the start, I could go on and win a lot and do a lot more now. You wouldn't be the guy from your age onwards to win a lot of golf tournaments.
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, there was a point about half past 5.00 this morning when I was stood against the shower leaning against the wall thinking, oh, God -- and you know, I'm experienced enough and I've won enough tournaments often enough and won tournaments back-to-back to know that, you know, something like this is something that you can kick on from and use that confidence and momentum that I've got from playing well on Sunday in the final round into this week, because I've only got one tournament left this year before I put the clubs away before Abu Dhabi next year. You know, it would be nice to carry last week's confidence and form into this week.

Obviously it's a golf course that suits me and I've played well on and I've got a pretty good game plan for. So you know, why not make the most of it.

Q. In the longer-term, do you think you can do more now than you would have done before last week, for example?
LEE WESTWOOD: Sorry, I can't hear what you're saying.

Q. Longer term, are you now thinking that you can do more in your career than you would have thought two weeks ago because you've had that win?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, for sure, winning a tournament, one as big as the Nedbank, playing like that in the final round and keeping everything together, yeah, I'm in a much more better place with my game right now than I was, say, after Valderrama where I went out after the rain delay there and dropped four shots and finished fifth.

It's all ifs and buts, but if I had played at Valderrama like I played yesterday, I would have -- you know, I would have had Sergio under a lot more pressure under those closing few holes.

Yeah, right now, I'm in a better spot than I was two weeks ago, yeah.

Q. Something else people are paying a lot of attention to, your caddie last week and not being with Billy. Can you tell us how that came about, the split with Billy? Had it sort of been on the cards?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, we've got a good relationship with Billy. Obviously we're very good friends and I saw him here earlier, and we had a hug. He said, "Well done." I'm pleased to see he's got --

Q. Does he cry?
LEE WESTWOOD: He was crying. He forgot to back me. (Laughter).

But mine and Billy's working relationship had got to a point where neither of us were gaining anything from it and we weren't doing each other any good.

I sat him down and said, "This is no good, I'm playing better when you're not there than when you are there, so something's obviously not working."

He said to me, "Well, I can't caddie for you how I want to caddie for you."

And I said, "Yeah, but you'd have done well like that. I need to you caddie for me how I want you to caddie for me," and he wasn't comfortable doing that. Because I don't require that much from a caddie anymore, and Billy has obviously been out here for years and very knowledgeable and wants to use all that knowledge to help somebody, and I could see he wasn't happy doing that.

So, you know, it just was one of those things that, you know, had to come to an end. We've obviously had a great time the last ten years and been very successful, but you know, people change and the way you work and look at things.

You know, I'm 45 now. I'm not 35. You can't carry on doing the same thing and expect something different out of him. I tried to change and unfortunately Billy didn't feel comfortable changing with me. It was an amicable split.

Q. How long will it take to get over missing out on the ten percent for last week?
LEE WESTWOOD: Oh, I don't know. You have to ask him. He's a Yorkshireman, isn't he, so could be a while.

No, I reckon Billy is one of the best caddies out here, so he'll pick up a new bag. He's working for Matt this week, and obviously Matt's done well around here and he'll have a chance. Billy will improve him, there's no doubt about that.

Q. How long do you think you can go without having a professional caddie?
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, I've got one this week, Glen Murray's working for me.

Q. For the foreseeable future?
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, I haven't made any plans. Helen wants to do it again in Abu Dhabi. She did it a couple years ago and we finished eighth.

I obviously don't pay her a percentage, but the first one, losing in a playoff in Denmark, she wanted a new steamer. And it's now because she saw it's a bigger cheque at the Nedbank, she wants a new kitchen. We just moved house, so I might have to take her up on that. Might actually save me a few quid, getting a new kitchen instead of the 10 percent I would have been paying. I don't know how big the kitchen's going to be, though (laughter).

Q. Reaction now with the children, four years older, to the win over the weekend. What was their reaction?
LEE WESTWOOD: Obviously my son plays golf and caddied for me a few weeks back. He's very much into watching how I do. So he was delighted and full of chat and excited.

Daughter, maybe not quite so much. You know, "Oh, who's a clever boy then." That's what I got from her.

Q. How old is she now?
LEE WESTWOOD: 14. Yeah, obviously they were pleased that I won. I think they saw a little bit of it, yeah.

Q. How amazing, Matt Kuchar sort of ending a similar sort of winless drought as you did.
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, amazing coincidence. But golf's like that. Just shows you that experience does count and you never know what's around the corner with golf, do you.

You never know when the next win is coming and when you're going to play well again or when the next slump is coming. You've just got to enjoy it while it's going for you, really. Make the most of it.

Q. Obviously you're keen to play another Ryder Cup in 2020. What does this win do for that, validate the chances that you do have of qualifying?
LEE WESTWOOD: I think it's just confirmation that I'm still good enough to compete with the best players. I haven't really thought about trying to qualify for the next Ryder Cup Team.

I've never really thought about trying to qualify for Ryder Cup teams. I've more sort of concentrated on hitting the ball well and playing well and I know if I do that then I'm good enough to win as I proved last week.

You know, I didn't -- over the first three days, I didn't really strike the ball as good as I know I can. Sunday I started to hit it a lot better, but obviously I won last week's tournament on the greens. I was plus 8.5 strokes gained on the greens. That's the part of the game that you can always improve on no matter who you are, and obviously it's improved a lot over the last few weeks because I was right up there at the top of the putting stat at Valderrama, too. Two lots of greens which are not the easiest and I've got the imagination and the feel coming back and the technique is improving all the time.

You know, if I keep working on my long game and getting that to the standard where I know it's at, when I have a good putting week, then I'm going to contend.

Q. You've been world No. 1, now at 64, and there's only 14 places for you to get into next year's Masters. Is that in your mind?
LEE WESTWOOD: I haven't really looked at anything to be honest.

Q. Would you add an event if you were up to 52 or something or in touch? Would you think of adding an event?
LEE WESTWOOD: No. I'm putting my clubs away after this week. You know, there are other ways, you can get back in the Top-50 in the beginning of next year and qualify. I've got other priorities.

I've already played 19 times this year after this tournament. I'll probably play a little bit more next year, somewhere around 22. No, I won't dramatically change anything to get into any tournaments or anything like that.

Q. Will you practise much in the off-season?
LEE WESTWOOD: I don't practise a lot anymore to be honest. I practiced for about an hour in the week off between Valderrama and Turkey. I work on my mental game and I work on my fitness in the gym and that's about it, really.

You know, I don't know, I don't really enjoy practising as much as I used to, and the weather's lot really great in Britain this time of year. I just don't do it. I think about it. I think about practising (laughter) if that makes sense, yeah.

I think about the golf swing a lot. I've got video of my swing on my phone, and I'll sit there and watch it and think, Oh, I can work on that, or that will need to improve, but I'll try to do it in the gym instead of hitting balls on the range.

Q. Joe wants to know: Other than the Tweets we saw, was there any messages of congratulations that stood out from Sunday?
LEE WESTWOOD: Oh, I had messages, from, I turned my phone on and I had about 120 WhatsApp message and 80 text messages. I just rattled through all those, and they were from friends and family.

Q. And then namesake, Lee, says he enjoys seeing videos of you in the gym. How much has that progress your game this year?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, I think strength and flexibility and just I like to try and maintain everything so I don't get injured and things like that. You know, that is mainly what I work on in the gym.

I used to lift quite heavy, but I don't really lift heavy anymore because I find it puts on bulk too quickly. For me, it's detrimental to my golf swing, so I work on other things.

I'm on a bit of a diet at the moment. I fell off it last night, obviously, but I'm just trying to cut a bit of weight at the moment, because I know if I don't, when I come back out in Abu Dhabi and I'll be the shape of a -- I'll look like I swallowed a Space Hopper or a beach ball (laughter).

So I've got to maintain my weight at the moment and get ready for the Christmas feed.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: A fine way to end.

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