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October 28, 2009

Lee Westwood


GORDON SIMPSON: Lee, welcome back, a former winner of The World Match Play, different venue, different country, different sponsor, but still a title that you actually relished winning. Take us back to 2000.
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, I think if you look back at the history of the tournament, the winners, it's a title that means a lot to a lot of people. When I go back to 2000, I beat Sergio and Ernie and Colin on the way to winning, which is no mean feat. They were always good fields back then, and it's got an equally good field this week. I think it's in depth one of the best World Match Play fields I've seen in a long time.
GORDON SIMPSON: You've never actually failed to get to the semifinals, if I'm right in saying; is that correct?
LEE WESTWOOD: If you say so (smiling). There you go.
GORDON SIMPSON: Tell us about this golf course then.
LEE WESTWOOD: It's a good golf course. Great for match play. I think it's probably a big hitter's golf course to be honest. I suppose any golf course, if you're a big hitter and hit it straight, you have an advantage. But the par 5s are just about in range for the long hitters, and a couple par 4s you can get close to. It's in immaculate condition and not a lot of rough which plays into the longer, more erratic drivers of the golf ball I suppose, and the greens are immaculate.
You have a real good chance of holing putts if you hit good putts on the right line. There's not a lot of deviation out there. There's a bit of wind today, which made the course play a bit interesting, some tight tee shots out there at times, and you have to think your way around it, hit 3-wood off the tee occasionally. And it's a golf course that I enjoy playing.
GORDON SIMPSON: A bit of insurance for everyone this week, you can afford to have maybe one bad game and still qualify.
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, I suppose that's the case with the group stages. You know, you can have a one-off round, as long as you don't go down too heavily I suppose.

Q. I think those who have watched this at Wentworth on the telly as kids growing up, it doesn't feel like the same tournament, even though it is the same tournament as the Match Play. What does it feel like as a player?
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, I grew up watching the Match Play on TV, watching Seve play Bernhard Langer and all of the years ago, Seve playing and Sandy Lyle and Faldo. And it was just that the World Match Play was just associated with Wentworth. You know, the sponsors changed over the years, but I think you've got to move on. It is at the end of the day, it does have the word world in it, so you know, it was time to move it around the world a little bit.
You know, if you're going to have it in Europe, Spain is a great place to have it. The weather is pretty reliable, and tend to be good golf courses down here. Whenever we played the Volvo Masters at Valderrama, there's been lots of spectators. I think, you know, if you have to change it, then this is a good option.

Q. And do you like the format?
LEE WESTWOOD: I do like the format, yeah. I know it goes a little bit against the thought of match play where we have to continue after the games are finished, and you can lose somewhere along the lines and probably still go through.
But I think these things have to evolve, and it's a good way of keeping everybody involved a little bit longer, as well. I'm for it. I would be interested to see how it all works out this week.

Q. What about the fact that you are going to play the full 18 holes, regardless of where the actual match is decided?
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, it will be a test of stamina. You know, it's a demanding golf course on the body, and that will make it even harder that we have to play at least 54 holes over the first two days. There will be no real reward for giving somebody 7 & 6 and you can walk in after only 12 holes.

Q. But mentally, as well, the aspect, the match done.
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, you have to have your wits about you and grind it out mentally and physically till the end.

Q. Can I get your thoughts on the lineup this week? You said a very strong international field.
LEE WESTWOOD: My thoughts on the field? I said the field is as strong as I can remember depth-wise, through the field I think it's a really good quality field. I don't think there will be any easy matches out there.

Q. The victory was a good one and very well timed, do you feel that the European No. 1 is yours for the taking this season?
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, it is now in my hands, if I win all of the tournaments, it will be impossible for anybody to get past me. It's as good a chance as I've had all year really and it's as good a position as I've been in all year. But it's far from over. Playing for a lot of money this week, next week, Hong Kong, Dubai. One person in the right position on the Money List winning can go past me.
So I've got to try and take each week as it comes and get the most out of every week. I'm not sort of counting any chickens or resting on my laurels. I'm having to work as hard, if not harder, to try and stay in front really. It was well timed.

Q. Do you think we'll ever persuade the top Americans to come back, because Arnie obviously made it in the early days coming over, and Anthony Kim, a decent draw and interesting person, he's No. 8 on the U.S. list. Do you think going forward we will get some of the top Americans back, or are those days gone?
LEE WESTWOOD: I think there will be times when it fits in with the Americans and their schedule. If any Americans are playing in the HSBC next week, it's quite a long way around the world for them to come here and go on. I would imagine it would be easier to go fly to L.A. and then go fly off to China. And it's quite close on the back of their FedExCup where they have played, if you single out Tiger or Phil, they will have played all of the FedExCup events, I would imagine, plus The Presidents Cup in the middle of that.
So if I was playing on that Tour, I would be looking to this period in the year as an ideal place to have two or three weeks off, so I can see why they don't come and play. But I would imagine when schedules permit, I don't see any reason why they wouldn't come back and play.
It's as big a title over there as it is here. Certainly I played Tiger, I think it was in '98, and you know, it was a tournament he wanted to win.

Q. Does the fact that you have won the money title before make you any less determined to win it this time? The three guys behind you have not won it before?
LEE WESTWOOD: No, more determined, if anything. I would obviously like to repeat it. It means you're the most consistent player over the year really, and it's obviously very difficult to win the Money List. Especially with the quality players that we have got in Europe playing The European Tour at the moment.

Q. Do you think it's possible to win it without winning another tournament?
LEE WESTWOOD: I think it's possible, but I would rather win another tournament before the end of the year. Not because I want to win the Money List, but I would just rather win another tournament before the end of the year.

Q. And on the format, the WGC version of this, if it comes early in the year for you, you've had a lot of sort of early defeats, this new format, was it a relief to see it?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, I don't know the reason why I've never done particularly well in the one in Arizona, or when it was La Costa. If you look historically over my career, I've never really been that successful in the early months of the year, so maybe that's just the reason there. I take a bit of warming up. (Laughter).

Q. The Lee Westwood of 2009, how would he perform against the Lee Westwood of 2000 in The Match Play?
LEE WESTWOOD: I think he would probably beat him.

Q. So what have you got in 2009 that you didn't have in 2000?
LEE WESTWOOD: I think all-around, I'm a better player. I think my results in the majors have proved that, you know, I've performed better in the bigger events, in the World Golf Championships. I've become a more consistent player. I think I had that youthful, fearless approach more ten years ago, which made it easier for me to win on a regular basis, which I'm trying to get back now, just that habit of turning up almost cocky, it was a youthfulness, cockiness type of thing. I'd like to get that back. I'm much more mature now, as well. I've had more experiences and been through more things. I've been through the highs and been through the lows and I think having been through the lows, it makes you stronger, especially if you can come out of there successfully.

Q. Do you want to be more cocky?

Q. Is that what you said, you want to get back to being cocky?
LEE WESTWOOD: I would like to have that -- the confidence and arrogance that I had when I was younger where I turned up to tournaments slightly more bulletproof.

End of FastScripts

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