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November 17, 2009

Lee Westwood


GORDON SIMPSON: Lee, great pleasure to see you here, first time at the Earth Course, Jumeirah Golf Estates for the Dubai World Championship, and it's pretty simple what you've got to do. You win the tournament, you win the big pot.
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, yeah, there's lots of different permutations I suppose. It obviously would be nice to win the tournament, yeah. You know, that's what I'll be trying to do this week.
GORDON SIMPSON: Have you had a chance to see the course?
LEE WESTWOOD: No, I haven't been out there yet. It was too busy with press on it yesterday. Couldn't get a tee time. (Laughter).
GORDON SIMPSON: The one thing is, it is a race, and we've got four people who can still win it. So from a public perspective and media and television, it's great.
LEE WESTWOOD: It is amongst is the everybody, the players, the media, the public at home. So, yeah, it's been an improvement on the usual Money List that we used to run, and I think it's been good for everybody, really, good for the Tour and good for Dubai and good for world golf.
GORDON SIMPSON: I think as well the fact that so many people have taken over the No. 1 position and lost it again and regained it.
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, it's by no means over. I mean, I back in 2000, you probably know better than me from the stats, but I think I was more an 128,000 behind going into the last event. So, I've done it before, and I can do it again.

Q. Do you know all of the permutations? Have you worked them all out or has somebody worked them out for you?
LEE WESTWOOD: I thought you were going to do it, but you were all busy on the golf course.

Q. Has your father?
LEE WESTWOOD: No, I don't think he has. He's not bothered. He's more worried about his Race to Dubai fantasy league than mine. He's about ninth, by the way.
Q. Do you think you'll find yourself looking at the positions of the other three more than you would do in a normal tournament?
LEE WESTWOOD: No, I don't think so. You know, I'm going to try and come here and win the golf tournament, and everything else will take care of itself after that.
I was obviously leading before last week, but you know, got to that golf course, took a look at it and thought immediately that it wasn't the kind of golf course that was going to suit me.
So you know, just put that to the back of my mind and try and play this one this week, which I think will suit a bit better.

Q. How difficult was it for you, you said you were not going to change your putting style --
LEE WESTWOOD: I didn't bother.
Q. How tough was it to say, well, I should be trying harder but I'm not going to because next week is more important?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, when you look at it over the context of the year, you know, 100 and whatever it is behind, 128,000, is it, I don't know, and that's the difference between. You look back, bogeyed last two holes at St. Andrews links to go from about fifth to ninth; bogeyed the last hole in China to drop down, bogeyed the last hole at The Open obviously. Could have been a live-changing experience. Lost a playoff in France. You know, it's been small things here and there throughout the year, not just last week.
So in the grand scheme of things, I think if you're going to narrow it down, last week is irrelevant, really, compared to what's on for this week and the effect that a good performance this week can have. I think you look at the top of the Money List, Martin is up there because he's won two of the biggest events until the middle of the year.
Ross Fisher has played consistently, just recently won the Match Play to get into it. I think amongst everybody, probably me and Rory have played the most consistent. I think we have had the most Top-10 finishes. Geoff is up there because he did really well at the Match Play at the start of the year, won a big cheque there.
So a lot of different things can go into the winning of The Race to Dubai. You can't really sort of set out at the start of the year to make it your goal. You just have to take each week individually and try and perform well on those weeks. I sat down at the start of the year and made my major championships the goal, so as far as I'm concerned, it's been a pretty successful year no matter what happens.

Q. Was it a mistake to go last week?
LEE WESTWOOD: In hindsight, yeah, I think it probably was. I obviously didn't know the golf course because I had never been there. But looking back on it now, it was a course that definitely didn't suit me, predominantly a hooker's golf course, a lot of shots off the tee where it suited somebody that drew it and hit a hard draw, which is not my shot.
I've worked a lot this year on sort of 60 to 100 yards out, but it's still not as sharp as everybody else is, and there were a lot of those shots last week and a lot of 5-wood wedge holes, 3-wood wedge holes, and obviously only two par 5s. No rough, which generally doesn't suit my game. I like harder golf courses where there's a bigger premium on tee-to-green stuff.
So you occasionally get weeks where things are not in your favour. I had a busy week off the golf course, too. I had a lot of stuff to do. I was a bit lethargic, really, throughout the week.

Q. Is there any of that left over?
LEE WESTWOOD: No, not really. I've sort of -- after 16 years out here and a few up-and-downs, I've sort of managed to be able to block average weeks out and move on on a Monday morning.

Q. Does it worry you that there's no rough here?
LEE WESTWOOD: Why? Have you chopped it all the way around yesterday? (Laughter).

Q. You'll see the marks.
LEE WESTWOOD: You left it scarred, have you? Well, I obviously won't hit it where you hit it yesterday. I'll be a lot further back going in with a lot more club. But I've heard there's a not a lot of rough out there, but it's a lot longer golf course. You're going to be hitting a lot longer clubs in. I think the greens, from what I hear, are large, but they have sections where there are dead elephants in some of them, so it's going to be a premium on hitting iron shots close.
So, we'll see. Whichever way, it will be an exciting week.
GORDON SIMPSON: The great thing is no one has absolutely had a chance to master it yet. It's new to everyone.
LEE WESTWOOD: We are all in the same boat.

Q. Would winning The Race to Dubai this year be a greater achievement than 2000 because of what's happened in between?
LEE WESTWOOD: I don't think it would mean any more. You know, it meant a lot in 2000, because I had won six stroke, seven events, because the Match Play doesn't count on the Money List. So that obviously meant a lot to me because not that many people won that many events in one year.
So, no. Short answer.

Q. As he's your nearest rival, how much respect do you have for Rory as a 20-year-old chasing you and be chasing him, etc.?
LEE WESTWOOD: I have a lot of respect for everybody, you know, who plays golf well. Obviously with Rory being 20, it's remarkable, really, how good he's got so quickly. So you know, he may be the best young player in the world, absolutely no doubt about it for me.

Q. Early on has he asked for any advice at all?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, a little bit, and I've given it.

Q. And is it going to come back and bite you this week?
LEE WESTWOOD: I don't think it would do, no. I bunched Ryo in that bracket, as well. I've played with him and the thing that impressed me about Ryo is the fact that he's a good winner. He's got that winning habit already. It's a very difficult knack to grasp, being able to win multiple times in a year, and he seems to do it quite easily. He makes winning look easy. So those two are the best two I think.

Q. When did you last play with Rory in a tournament? Which I presume you will in the first round?
LEE WESTWOOD: (Thinking) Switzerland, first two days.

Q. Has there --
LEE WESTWOOD: Sorry. Takes my mind a bit longer to work now that I'm old.

Q. Has there been any banter between you off the course about this, and is experience going to help you at all in the last couple of days maybe?
LEE WESTWOOD: We've had a bit of banter, but --
Q. Side bets?
LEE WESTWOOD: No side bets, no. I think there's enough on it.
What was the other question, sorry.

Q. Experience, is it going to count for anything?
LEE WESTWOOD: I think it's better to have been in that position than to not have, yeah. I think it's the same with anything. You know what to expect and if you've handled it well before, you can always feed off that.

Q. Would winning The Race to Dubai mean more to you than being competitive in those majors?
LEE WESTWOOD: No. If you're going to set goals out, there's no point in changing your mind at the end of it just to suit yourself. No point in setting a goal then, is there.
You know, my goal at the start of the season was to start to play better in the majors and the World Golf Championships and contend in them, and I gave myself a good chance at winning the odd one and probably should have won it; PGA, highest finish in that one. You know, you have to occasionally accept it that you're not going to win, but be happy with the lot. Which he can check.

Q. You've had a bit of banter with Rory on the BBC blog and everything.

Q. Obviously it's good-natured and everything, but is it good to have that little bit of personal edge and sort of -- I don't know if it's a laugh, but the fact that you are winding each other up.
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, it's just friendly batter. I don't think it's a Ferguson/Wenger of thing. (Laughter).
We're just having a laugh.

Q. Is there a part of you that would like this to really go down to the wire, between the two of you on the 18th together?
LEE WESTWOOD: No, I would like to have about a 15-shot lead with one hole to play on Sunday evening. But I don't think that will happen.
It's not something that I've really thought about to be perfectly honest. I'm just trying to get my game in good shape for Thursday morning, or afternoon, whenever we are out, and see what happens from there. I know if I play well enough this week, and putt well enough, I'll win.

Q. You said that you're not as sharp as others 60 to 100 yards. How far behind are you?
LEE WESTWOOD: I think that's the area in my game where I can improve the most. It's hard to quantify it, but it's certainly an area of my game that I'm not as happy with as everything else. I would say it's my main weakness. I worked a lot on my short game, short, 40 yards in and bunker play recently, and that's up to a standard now where I think it's 5th in the world standard where I am. But I don't think from 50 to 100 yards, it is. So that's the area of the game I'll be working on over the winter.
But I'm not -- you know, I'm not going to kid you, winning The Race to Dubai would mean a lot, but since the US PGA has finished, all of my thoughts on working on my game have been geared towards next April at Augusta, because I've won an Order of Merit. Majors are things that I haven't won and they are the things that I'm gearing my game towards.
GORDON SIMPSON: Well, Lee, we'll be interested to hear your verdict when you finish. Thank you very much for coming in. FastScripts by ASAP Sports ...

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