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September 30, 2009

Lee Westwood


MICHAEL GIBBONS: Lee, welcome as always. Maybe start us, off your thoughts going into the week and looking ahead.
LEE WESTWOOD: I'm looking forward to it. I always enjoy this week. It's obviously a very serious week but there's a hint of light-heartedness to it. And being a Pro-Am format that I play with Chubby, and that's always entertaining seeing what Chubby is going to hit next. I always played pretty well here, had a few Top-10s and won here once.
LEE WESTWOOD: Was it 2003? There you go.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: One you bring a lot form into and must be hoping to get that victory.
LEE WESTWOOD: I've played well this year, I played well in the big events. I had a couple of weeks off to recharge the batteries and looking forward to getting going again and finishing off the season strongly.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: And Race to Dubai the main target now?
LEE WESTWOOD: I think so. I think it's in most people's thoughts now. We have some massive events coming up that could affect the outcome of The Race to Dubai, and I've obviously got to play myself into a good position, which is just about all you want to do at this part of the year. And we'll see what happens over the next five weeks, six weeks.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Six weeks, 50 days until the Dubai World Championship.

Q. (Did you watch the Vivendi Trophy)?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, I watched most of it. It looked great. Weather looked fantastic. Course looked good. It looked like both teams played pretty well. Some great stuff from the Great Britain and Ireland team. I couldn't resist --

Q. What do you mean by that?
LEE WESTWOOD: I would have liked to have played but I had a long year. I'm 36 years old now. I'm not 21, 22 like some of the lads and I just can't play every week. I have to pace myself, and the important thing for me for this part of the year is the Money List and unfortunately the money in the Seve Trophy didn't count on the Money List.

Q. On the same trophy thing, Rory was expected to do well, but say, Chris Wood, who you probably know quite well, in the same stable, are you surprised how well he played? What do you think of his year, because this time last year he was in Q-School.
LEE WESTWOOD: Not surprised at all. A practise round with Chris at The Open championship because his caddie caddied for me the week before at Loch Lomond and we had a bit of a chat about Chris and his game and he said not really too many weaknesses in his game. You know, you can see that from the way he plays.
And I suppose slightly to his advantage would be having been amateur last year, he would have played more match-play golf than most people at the Vivendi Trophy just recently. So obviously he felt comfortable playing match play.

Q. Coming from Q-School to 2008 to Vivendi Trophy 2009, surprising?
LEE WESTWOOD: It surprises me in a way but then again it doesn't surprise me because a lot of the top amateurs that come out are semi-professional, basically. They are doing lots of travelling as amateurs. They are probably playing more golf than me, more golf than the professionals, as you know, full-time amateurs.
So if they are a good enough player and mentally confident enough, then they can make the switch quite easily I think. We have seen it with the young Italian amateur, when he's played this year, he's played very well, and Rory has obviously made the transition quite smoothly, and Chris has, too. And I'm sure there's a few more that I haven't mentioned.
But I think the fact that they do, they are semi-pros when they are amateurs now, which is a good thing in a way if they are going to head down that way.

Q. Is it more mental tiredness than physical tiredness that forces to you pace yourself, and when does that kick in, after how many events in a row do you start feeling it?
LEE WESTWOOD: I think it depends how you perform in certain events, as well. I've obviously put a lot into the majors this year and put a lot of mental drain has come from The Open and the PGA Championship, which kicks in when you don't notice it.
You have to sort of spot it coming, and it felt like that over the last couple of weeks, really. In Switzerland I felt a bit sort of drained and Germany, too, making silly mental errors that I shouldn't really have made. I just felt like I needed a couple of weeks off to get myself back mentally right and I needed to do some work in the gym, as well, work on some strength and fitness work for the last part of the year.

Q. Dubai question. When was the first time you win over to play over in Dubai, and what was your first impression of the place you've got there; and now it's changed so much, so quickly. And what do you tell people that it's like?
LEE WESTWOOD: 1994 was my first year there. There wasn't really a lot there. The golf course was just this oasis, 25 minutes from the middle of town. Everybody sort of stayed near the airport or the town itself. It's changed quite dramatically since then. It's shot up beyond anybody's sort of wildest dreams, and nobody could envisaged where it is now having gone there in 1994.

Q. (Where would you rank it)?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, it is one of my favourite venues and stops on the Tour. The weather is very predictable there. The golf courses are great, hotels are fantastic, easy place to get to. Tournaments always feel like big tournaments and always attract good fields. And I just like Dubai itself. I've been there on holiday this year. I think you can turn up in Dubai and whatever you want to do, they have got it, even skiing.

Q. When you take the kids on holiday, what do you do?
LEE WESTWOOD: What everybody else does? On the beach, make sand castles.

Q. (Thoughts on the Earth Course)?
LEE WESTWOOD: I don't know much to be perfectly honest. I don't think any of us have played it probably. It will be very similar to most of the courses in Dubai I would imagine. It will be perfectly manicured and probably long. They have a tendency to make the golf courses long now. I think the last few holes are quite challenging. We played a little opening there when the Dubai Desert Classic was on and Darren came back and said the last few, you could come unstuck, which is good. Because with the title on the line, you should have to play the shots coming down the stretch.

Q. Talking about Dubai, do the players worry about the way things seem to be going financially and do you discuss it amongst yourselves what might be happening next year?
LEE WESTWOOD: I haven't had anybody discussions with anybody. I think the world is struggling financially. Dubai is no different. I think a lot of Dubai's income, probably now, with all of the building and such that's gone on there, is built around holiday and tourism, and I think that's probably the first place people cut back, don't they. So I think they are the suffering -- they are the first line of suffering, really.

Q. Did you expect that there would be a cut to 25 per cent?
LEE WESTWOOD: I expected there to be more cuts and greater cuts. I thought we would lose more tournaments and tournaments have managed to survive. I thought prize funds would be cut more dramatically than they have been. I think we have been lucky in golf so far.

Q. For next year, is there anything that the players know about --
LEE WESTWOOD: I would be speculating. I don't know anything. I'm good at getting the little white ball into the hole, not predicting financial climates (chuckling).

Q. (Where would you rank these courses)?
LEE WESTWOOD: I think Carnoustie is probably in the top three links courses in Britain, along with Birkdale and probably Muirfield. And the other two, St. Andrews has all of the history and the tradition, being the home of golf.
Kingsbarns is a fantastic new golf course, and St. Andrews and Kingsbarns give you a real chance to shoot a low score.
Carnoustie if you play well, obviously you can shoot a low score but if you walk off Carnoustie, depending on the conditions, 70, 69, then you feel like you've not given up too much. When you look at the score when is they are collected throughout the week, Carnoustie seems to be the highest scores.

Q. Do you enjoy St. Andrews now?
LEE WESTWOOD: St. Andrews? Well, it would have been hard to have -- but, yeah, I do enjoy St. Andrews now. Sort of always helps when you win around somewhere to change your views on the place.
But when you're young and you turn up to a place and you just bash the ball and you hit a slope and it goes off miles away, little things like that, they tend to irritate you as a 24-, 25-year-old and as you get older, you learn to appreciate the subtleties of things, and I've done that over the years. And now, you know, it's a course I enjoy playing and look forward to playing.

Q. Is that since --
LEE WESTWOOD: No, it was changing over a period of time but that just confirmed it, but I love the place.

Q. How does the weather relate to playing these three courses, which course would you least rather play in bad weather, for example?
LEE WESTWOOD: It's very difficult to say. I think most people would like to play Carnoustie on a good day with it being the most demanding golf course. Having said that, I played Kingsbarns when there's been a real stiff breeze blowing, and some of the greens are very severely undulating and it's tough to putt on them.
I think ideally, on the worst days, you would probably like to play here, St. Andrews, but hopefully the weather will be consistent all week long.
St. Andrews, as a whole package, it is one of my favourite venues; the fact that the whole town is buzzing during the week. The course itself is a little bit unfortunate because people can't get down the middle of it, so you don't get quite the same atmosphere from the spectators, apart from the corner where you change around a bit, and it's one of the lowest-scoring venues, too. I would rate it quite highly. It's one of the venues I look forward to the most.

Q. But when you first maybe didn't look forward to it at all?
LEE WESTWOOD: Looked forward to getting here but I could never get my head around and find a way of playing the golf course, because I had not really learnt how to fiddle around here.

Q. (Thoughts on your year)?
LEE WESTWOOD: Played consistently well. Just not quite finished a few of the tournaments off when I should have done really. Could have done with a couple of breaks at the right times, and very positive for the next turn.

End of FastScripts

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