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November 22, 2009

Lee Westwood


GORDON SIMPSON: Well, we'd like to welcome Lee Westwood, winner of the Dubai World Championship, winner of the inaugural Race to Dubai, and Lee, I think that was an absolute master class out there today.
LEE WESTWOOD: Thank you. Yeah, it felt pretty good I have to say. It's hard to imagine playing better, getting the breaks when you need them, and just I didn't think I'd feel so calm out there. I think I learned a lot from my Open experience and tried to put it into practise today, and it paid off.
GORDON SIMPSON: You've had the highs and lows; you had the high in 2000. How does this actually compare?
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, I'd have to say it's better. You know, obviously winning in 2000 meant a lot, I won six events and The World Match Play that year. But then to drop completely into obscurity, I suppose, and come back from it and get back into the Top-10 in the world and crown it all by winning this, obviously means a lot.

Q. For the between hit of Peter Higgs, who is not here anymore, what was the strategy that you were not going to reveal yesterday?
LEE WESTWOOD: Okay. If you really want to know, the secret was, there wasn't a secret. The secret was, making everybody else think I had a secret, when I didn't really have one at all. (Laughter).
The reason for the big turnaround in confidence and stuff like that was catching Billy at the beach party on Tuesday evening. I mean, probably just had enough Heineken, to tell me what he really thought, and me, having -- I only had two Mojitos, and then moved on to Diet Cokes, to actually understand what he was telling me.
He said that, you know, I've been great all year, great in Portugal, obviously won there, had a lot of confidence, and then since then, I had not been myself, I had been paying too much attention to the other people around me, looking at boards too much, worrying what other people were doing. He said, "You've won 30 times," which is -- "well," he said, "you've won seven times in a year and 30 times in your career, which is more than the other three guys that were trying to win the Money List put together probably." I mean, I don't know.
He said, "You've been out here 16 years and that's longer than all three of them put together." If you start playing, like he knew I could play, they would be the ones looking up at board worrying about me. And that's what I've tried to do.
He said, I know it's a terrible word to use because I don't -- I hate it, but he said, "you've got to bully them on the golf course. You've got to be yourself again and get back that instinct I had in the late 90s and 2000." And getting up on that board and watching him, nodding my head, that sort of attitude, and that's why I've been confident all week.
GORDON SIMPSON: Do you feel you did bully the rest into submission?
LEE WESTWOOD: It felt like it, yeah. It felt like it today. It was obviously a massive feather in my cap the first day when Rory said he was glad to get away from it. There's nothing worse to say than that if you're Rory and he will learn from that. And there's nothing better for me than for a competitor to say they are glad they are not playing with me.
And then just a lot of things have gone on on the course this week. First day came around, walked across the fairway, said it was like watching a machine, because I was hitting the fairway, just little things like that I fed off, trying to feed off as many things as I could and not taking any negative.

Q. Very impressive, can you tell me the difference, your game in 2000 and your game nowadays, and maybe the difference of the personality of Lee Westwood of 2000 and nowadays.
LEE WESTWOOD: I'm much more mature now. I've got a more rounded game I think. There's less flaws, there's less weaknesses. And I think that's it, basically. Obviously in it 1999, 2000, '98, I was young, 26 years old, 27, 28. I'm 36 which is not old by any means, but you have that kind of bravado, and a lots happened in the last eight, nine years. I've been through a lot. I now know what it's like to play poorly, and sometimes that's always in the back of your mind and it's hard to snap out of that.

Q. You seemed incredibly calm all week, and also, a knock-about in here. Was that also the result of the pep talk with Billy or part of the same scenario where you had to exude confidence?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, I think so. I think the way you are, the way you portray yourself can be intimidating to other people. I'm not saying it was but I think it certainly helped. It certainly made me feel good. Even when things were not quite going my way on the second day and I was not making birdies when I thought I should make birdies, I tried to stay patient and keep that same calmness and wait for things to happen.

Q. Were you as calm as you looked off the course?
LEE WESTWOOD: As I looked off the course?

Q. When you were off the course, when you were coming in here?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, I've been calm all week. I was surprised how calm I was today. I was very confident in what I was doing. I expected to play well. I was a little bit nervous walking on to the first tee, but belt 3-wood 290 yards down the middle, that calms you.

Q. Can you talk about the amazing mental journey you made from the Sunday night at Turnberry to where you are now and how bad it was?
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, obviously after Turnberry, I was about as disappointed as I've ever been in my career I think. It just felt like it, and still does, feels like a championship I should have won. And The Open Championship is the most important tournament in the world to me. It is the one to win.
So to come so close and not win was obviously very disappointing, but like I said at the time, you've got to get over that sooner or later and turn finishing third in a major championship into positives, which I tried to do over the next few weeks; and backed that up with 9th in Bridgestone and a third in the PGA, and really had some good results since then.
So rather than the immediate feeling of disappointment carrying on, I tried to draw confidence from it and move on and be ready for next time. Today almost felt a similar pressure to try to win The Open Championship, because this is over a year, or 14 months obviously; it means a lot to be the European No. 1, to be able to say that again.
I tried to feel differently to how I felt coming down the stretch at Turnberry, and I had nothing but positive thoughts out there. The 6-iron I hit on 17 is probably one of the best shots I'll ever hit. Just belt it into that left-to-right wind and stopped it ten feet in the hole. There can't have been that many people that close to the hole today. And good shots today: Driver and 9-iron into the previous hole, 16. Hit a wedge to two feet on 15. Just good shots all day.

Q. This has not just begun. When do you think this form that you are obviously now showing so well really began? Before Torrey Pines last year or when? And secondly, who are the people who are involved in helping you get to this position?
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, it's very difficult to say when it turned around. I can tell you, it's been a combination of a lot of things. A lot of credit's got to go to Steve MacGregor, the guy that I work with in the gym. I think it probably all turned around three years ago when I started working with him to be perfectly honest.
Even though the immediate effect might not be on the golf course, certainly he brought some professionalism, and he's a very analytical person. He brought that to the way I felt and started thinking about the game and thinking about my fitness, and that has helped me on the range, try and implement things in my golf swing that I think I need to improve as well. He's helped with nutrition and stuff like that. So he's been a big help.
And then obviously starting working with Billy has made a phenomenal difference. It's always reassuring; I think he's the best caddie, certainly in Europe, maybe in the world. And it's nice that I get on with him so well. You know, we are good mates, and you're never quite sure how that's going to turn out when you start working with somebody you get on really well with. It can go one of two ways really. So it's great that that has clicked into place.

Q. And Pete for the short game?
LEE WESTWOOD: When I started working with Billy, I was still working with Mark on my short game, Mark Roe, and I was just getting a bit stuck and not really seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with Mark. And Billy suggested that I go back to Pete, because he had seen the way Pete gives bunker lessons and stuff like that. That's really where started because my bunker game wasn't very good.
It all has just clicked through there. I think short game, the bunker play, my chipping, my pitching is starting to improve and that's spread into the rest of my game. Because generally over the years I've had a trend where the poorness in my short game has been reflective through the rest of my game, you know, through to the long swings. So I think that's just creeping through the whole of the game.
And they are the three guys, really, on the course; and Chubby I've been with for 16 years. He makes it very easy for me just to concentrate on golf. And my family at home are very supportive through the good times and the bad times, and back through the good times. I've got a lot of people helping me.

Q. You said earlier that there were times in recent years where you actually felt like giving up the game. Can you say when that was and why it actually got to that stage?
LEE WESTWOOD: I can't honestly remember the lowest of the lows. I've tried to block it all out really. I remember coming off Slaley Hall after shooting two rounds in the 80s. That must be it, because that sticks out, and missing the cut. That's about as -- I certainly turned up to tournaments with very low expectations.

Q. You've played a lot of rounds of golf, a 64 out there today, I hope you say that's the best ever; and if you think it is, why was it the best ever, in terms of pressure perhaps?
LEE WESTWOOD: I think the whole weekend was best ever. I haven't made a bogey over the weekend, two bogeys on the week. 66-64 the last two days under probably what is going to be the most severest of pressure over a long period.
And I can count on one hand how many poor shots I've really hit, because even the shots that I've hit to 30 feet on some holes, I've been absolutely spot on where I've been aiming. It's that kind of golf course where you have to play it strategically and leave yourself in areas where it's easy to get up-and-down in two.

Q. Best ever?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, definitely my best ever.

Q. What's your plans for the cheque? Seems like quite a large one?
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, don't know. What are the plans for the cheque, Laurae? Jimmy Choo have got a sale on, haven't they? (Laughter).
I don't know, we'll find something to do with it, I'm sure.

Q. I'm sure you can be proud of what Rory has achieved this year?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, I'm delighted for Rory. He's had a fantastic year, shown a lot of consistency. You know, he keeps putting himself in the frame, week-in, week-out. If you had said to him, will you take a third place this week, leading the Money List by 120,0000, he'd have taken it.
I played with him the first day, and I think he was being honest. He didn't play that great. But that's the sign of a good golfer that can get it around in 68 under pressure and I was putting pressure on him. I was playing eight out of ten, nine out of ten golf against him, and he battled away and hung in there.
So I mean, you know, what's he got going for him? 20 years old. Millionaire already. Hits it miles. Nice-looking girlfriend. Drives a Lamborghini. (Laughter) yeah, it's hard, isn't it. (Laughter).

Q. As much pressure as it was on you and Rory, there was also a lot of spotlight on the Dubai World Championship itself and on the golf course. Can you just tell us from your perspective, I know you would say it's a very easy golf course, but how was the tournament? What do you think about that and about the Dubai World Championship itself and the golf course?
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, I'm going to say it's a fantastic tournament, best ever. Seriously, if you ever wanted a tournament to burst on to the scene and have your first one out, that's probably as good as it gets out there. You know, you've got The Race to Dubai and the two people that are sort of in the frame for winning it coming down the stretch basically; you probably couldn't get any better.
I think Dubai and the golf course and The European Tour have come out of it looking fantastic. I think it's a great effort for golf in this region. I think it's a great advert for golf on The European Tour. Shows the quality of the players that we have on this tour.
A special mention for Ross McGowan's performance today, incredible, you know, some of the probably -- unless you're in golf, have not heard of. You know, he would have been under pressure out there and rattled off five birdies just to keep me on the back nine there, and cut the lead to four and then unfortunately on 17, hit a good shot, but just got turned into the wind a bit too much and came up in the bunker and made bogey.
I think that there's nothing but positives really to come out from this week for everybody.

Q. How about the golf course?
LEE WESTWOOD: The golf course I thought played really well. I know a lot of people were skeptical before the week started, but I think it got better as the week went on, as the greens firmed up. They were true. If you hit a good putt, they went in. There's plenty of water out there to make it interesting, and I tell you what, that is not an easy finish when you're under pressure. I'm glad I had a five-shot lead coming up the last.

Q. Same kind of question, but your score of 23-under suggests that it was an easy golf course. Was it, or was it anything but, and how does it compare with other European Tour venues?
LEE WESTWOOD: I think it would be unfair to the golf course to say it's an easy go of course.
The wind didn't pump this week. Second and third rounds, it blew a little bit, but I think they probably expected a little bit more wind than that when looking at this area. That's probably why he's made the fairways generous and the greens generous.
But there are sections on the greens, so if you do start to spray it around a bit, it's tough to get up-and-down in two. And this week's just about as good as I can play. So I'm going to shoot 23-under around most golf courses when I play as good as I can play.

Q. Did it shock you when you were told about Rory saying he'd rather not playing with you in the second round? Where were you at that time?
LEE WESTWOOD: I read it in the press.

Q. And did it shock you?
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, I wouldn't have said it. But I had been on Tour 16 years and he had been on Tour three years, and it's something he'll learn over the period of time. Sometimes when you say off the golf course and the mind games you play are as important as the pressure you can put on people on the golf course.

Q. And secondly, what were the mistakes that you made at Turnberry, just the mental approach to it?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, getting ahead of myself. The only mental mistake really Billy and myself made as regards clubbing was the shot into 16. I had tried to cut up a little 9-iron, and in hindsight, should probably have belted a hard wedge. But it is very easy to say that afterwards with anything. Just to be more confident coming down that stretch.

Q. There seemed to be in your celebration, a bit of a Freddie Flintoff and the Ashes embracing the heavens. Was that inspired?
LEE WESTWOOD: I knew he was at the side of the greens. I thought he'd like that.

Q. And just secondly, you said yourself what the next step is. Can this be a springboard, and particularly the manner of your performance a springboard to the majors?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, I think so. How can you not gain an unbelievable amount of confidence from playing that good under that kind of pressure, all week, really. I know Rory said playing the first round was like playing the last round for him. So that's what kind of pressure it putts people under.
You know, I've played pretty flawless golf all week. Can't recall being in trouble. I've been in the wood chip twice on the first day. Hit it stiff and close on the 18th, but that's it. Like I said, that's just about as good as I can play out there this week.

Q. Do you know how Tiger feels now?
LEE WESTWOOD: If he plays like that every week, yeah. That would be nice. But that's what we are all driving towards, repeating that as often as possible. And when you do play your best, lifting the bar. Making your average stuff good enough to contend week-in, week-out. That's what practise is all about. People have always said in golf, it's not how good your good shots are, it's how good your bad ones are. That's why you practise and try and groove as repetitive an action as possible.

Q. Just a short one. When you won a couple of years ago, you allowed your season to take the trophy to school. Is he going to take those with him?
LEE WESTWOOD: I don't think they will be allowed to leave here somehow. I might let him take the replica, yeah.

Q. Do you think it a surprise maybe for Rory that he did not win The Race to Dubai this year; may this not heighten expectations further?
LEE WESTWOOD: He won't think so.

Q. Do you think so?
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, maybe, yeah. Possibly. Depends how you are mentally, really, how you take things. People are always going to talk about him because he's a phenomenal talent. It's whether he listens to it or whether he just carries on doing what he thinks is right.

Q. As you say, you're not old, but are you old enough to think that reaching world No. 1 is unattainable with Tiger likely to be around for another seven, eight years at least?
LEE WESTWOOD: You think I can out-stay him? (Laughter) Maybe when I'm about 60. I think anything is attainable but that would obviously be unbelievably difficult. You've just got to watch him play to see how good he is. I think second is definitely achievable.

Q. Is it realistic to think Rory might one day be world No. 1, at 20?
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, he will definitely out-stay for sure. He's a talent. There are a few parts of his game where he needs to sharpen up, but for 20, well, Mark O'Meara said he is better than Tiger was at that age. I didn't see Tiger too much at that age , but he's as good as I've seen for a long time.

Q. For somebody who lost their golfing mojo for a while, you got it back, it's all about timing to an extent. Do you wish there was a major just around the corn he?
LEE WESTWOOD: No, not really. I'd go into it drunk. (Laughter) No, when comes around next year, I will not have forgotten today. It will be crystal clear in my mind, just like The Open was. Those sort of memories continued to hang around for a while.

Q. Red shirt today. Any significance?
LEE WESTWOOD: Same shirt as Nottingham Forest wear and same colour shirt as the last day at Portugal.

Q. Will you be wearing this colour on when you next play Tiger in the final round?
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, I might do. He tends to wear a little darker red, so I might go for the red-red.
GORDON SIMPSON: Well, Lee Westwood, European No. 1 again for 2009. Well, well done.

End of FastScripts

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