Lee Westwood looks to rise up the rankings

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Lee Westwood is one of the region’s biggest fans. He’s been championing The European Tour’s Middle East Swing for the best part of two decades so it was fitting that the Englishman would become the winner of the inaugural season-ending DP World Tour Championship on the Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates on the re-named Race to Dubai in 2009. In this Exclusive Q&A, we find out just how hard it is to win The Race to Dubai, why he’s looking forward to this year’s Final Series and why he thinks Darren Clarke is the man to successfully lead Europe to Ryder Cup glory next year.

Worldwide GolF: How is your game coming together and what have you been focusing on?

Lee Westwood: I would have liked to have achieved a little bit more than I have so far this year but there are still some big tournaments to come and I’m hoping I can finish strongly.

 

WWG: There are big prizemoney events coming up on The European Tour’s Final Series but what are the main challenges you face on and off the course when it comes to travelling and playing the courses in Turkey, China and Dubai?

LW: It’s an exciting time of the year. Turkey is really establishing itself as a great tournament and I’m looking forward to playing in Shanghai, too. Traditionally I’ve done well in Asia and I think everyone looks forward to Dubai as well. We’re used to lots of travel and they’re generally courses we’re familiar with so as far as I’m concerned there aren’t any downsides really.

 

 

2015DDC

WWG: Back home in England, you’ve become one the Sky Ambassadors to host the British Masters, what does this mean to you and to have another big Tour event back in the UK?

LW: I think it’s great. We have to do everything we can to increase participation in the UK and this can only help. They’ve given away tickets on the Thursday which is a brilliant idea. I’d like to see more tournaments in the UK if possible.

 

WWG: How will you look to set your schedule in 2016 to take into consideration The Ryder Cup?

LW: I’ll be working really hard to get in The Ryder Cup Team but I’ll just be concentrating on trying to play as well as I can. There’s scope to alter your schedule later on in the points race but when you’re setting out your schedule it’s more about how to make the best of your year. If you can do that, the rewards will follow.

 

WWG: Could you ever see Dubai hosting The Ryder Cup? If so what would make it a great host?

LW: I’m not sure they would stage it outside Europe or the United States but that’s just the nature of the competition. I’ve been going to Dubai for many years and the tournaments, and everything that goes with them, is second to none.

 

WWG: You know Darren Clarke on and off the course better than most, but as a friend and player what does he bring to the table as a Ryder Cup Captain in what might be one of Europe’s toughest challenges at Hazeltine?

LW: You’re right. I think it will be a really tough challenge, possibly the hardest we’ve faced. They’re hurting after Gleneagles and a lot went on after that. They’ll be desperate to win the Cup back. Knowing Darren as I do, there will be emotion there but I also think he’ll be very methodical. Having played alongside him so often, and experienced beating people like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, I know how inspirational he can be. It’s a tough job but he’s certainly the best man for it.

 

WWG: You can now fly direct to Orlando from Dubai with Emirates. Do you feel this service will be helpful to the players based in the States in managing their international schedules more efficiently and being able to spend more time in the UAE. What other steps can be taken to help players based in the U.S. plan their European Tour calendar?

LW: Obviously a lot of the guys are based in Florida so it can only be a good thing in attracting American players. You see lots of the guys playing in European Tour events at the moment and that reflects well on those tournaments. I’m sure that more and more will want to play in the UAE because you’ll have players heading to the PGA Tour and talking about how good it is.

 

WWG: Would you ever look to move back to Europe or even make Dubai a base in the future?

LW: I would never rule anything out but I have no plans to do that at the moment.

 

WWG: Do you feel that many of the big tournaments are playing into the hands of the longest hitters on Tour and how do you prevent them becoming a long drive contest?

LW: You have to have a balance where those guys can be rewarded but accuracy also has to be crucial. You don’t want to see courses being tricked up.

 

WWG: What are the key assets to have in your game to win the DP Tour Championship on the Earth course at Jumeirah Estates, having won the inaugural event there?

LW: The guy who wins The Race of Dubai has won there quite a few times and you’re up against the best players in Europe so there’s that to contend with for a start. The Earth course a great layout. You need to be hitting the ball well because it’s difficult coming out of the rough.

 

WWG: We see you’ve just launched your own MasterClass App. How will this help amateurs improve their game?

LW: It works so well because you can check your swing against mine, with any club in the bag. Seeing the positions you’re in, rather than just feeling them, makes a big difference because you have the evidence right there in front of you. The technology is great and no matter what your standard, it will improve your game.

 

WWG: How are the Westwood Academies doing? Will you ever look to open one in the UAE?

LW: That’s a possibility. The schools are going from strength to strength and I’m really grateful to the people who are working on the ground there for all of the effort they put in. The kids improve as golfers and they’re getting a good education at the same time. I’m really proud of it.

 

WWG: You have been an Audemars Piquet ambassador for a while but what is it that attracted you to the brand when you could have opted for any watch brand?

LW: The relationship started back in 2005 at St Andrews when I received my first watch and it’s been going strong since then. I’m not a big jewellery wearer but they’re a very classic look and everyone always asks me about them when they see them.

 

LEE WESTWOOD TIME LINE

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