Lee Westwood begins the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a one-stroke lead over and Francesco Laporta and two-time Rolex Series winner Bern Wiesberger. A win for the Englishman today would see him claim a 25th European Tour title, and a second in the Middle East, in what has been a glittering career.
The 46 year old, who won the Race to Dubai and DP World Tour Championship double in 2009, claimed his first European Tour victory at the 1996 Volvo Scandinavian Masters while his last triumph came at the Rolex Series’ Nedbank Golf Challenge in 2018.
“I’m pretty excited to be going for my 25th European Tour victory,” said Westwood after his seven under par 65 on Saturday. “It’s always a bonus to be in contention, and that’s basically why we come out here. I’m not going to lie; I didn’t play a lot of golf coming into it so I didn’t know what to expect. To be in the lead with one round to go is a real positive.”
The Ryder Cup star currently sits eighth in the list of all-time European Tour victories with South African Ernie Els occupying seventh with 28. Seve Ballesteros leads the way with 50 wins while Bernard Langher sits in second on 42, and Tiger Woods third on 41 triumphs.
Westwood put himself in prime position to capture a 25th victory after rounds of 69, 68 and 65 at Abu Dhabi Golf while he also had the longest running bogey-free streak – 32 holes – before dropping a shot on the on par four 14th on Saturday.
“I played well (yesterday),” said Westwood. “I holed a couple of putts early on which gave me some momentum and then hit a brilliant shot into eight, the par five, with a hybrid, 266 to about three feet. I backed it up with a birdie at nine which gave me some momentum and put me on a roll. I was a bit unlucky on 14, came out straight left, snagged the hosel, but I had a solid finish to my round with a birdie at 16 which is not the easiest hole on the course and a nice birdie at the last.”
Westwood gets his final round underway at 12.05pm alongside Wiesberger and Laporta in the capital.