DUBAI // Asked after his round at which point on Sunday he thought he had a chance of winning, Lee Westwood replied: "Getting up this morning."
It was not an idle attempt at humour. Being the highest-ranked player in the field brings a certain bravado and, even at nine shots back heading into the conclusion of Omega Dubai Desert Classic, Westwood felt flush with hope.
He retained that optimism right to the 72nd hole. Three back from the leaders as he stood on the fairway with a 3-wood in hand, Westwood drilled his approach upwards of 240 yards.
Yet it flirted with the green before taking a plunge in the lake that guards the 18th green – chance sunk.
"Felt like I needed an eagle at the last, so there was a shot [at winning] all the way around," said Westwood after a bogey six saw him sign for a 68 and a 272 total.
"Was a pretty good shot, just right of the flag although I wanted it just left. If it'd been the same distance to the left it would've made the green. Thought it was always struggling on that line."
Westwood had earlier thought 64 was the score to offer an opportunity for victory, which would have deadened the nag of three previous runner-up finishes around Emirates Golf Club.
Ultimately, though, he still would have been bridesmaid for a fourth time.
"When I saw the forecast for some wind I thought that'd give me a better chance," Westwood said. "It's been a bit too calm for me all week. I would have liked a bit more breeze."
He leaves Dubai with the wind firmly in his sails. A first outing of 2013 confirmed, his short game is strong and the putter is heating up, the result of his recent relocation to America.
Westwood now takes in a five-week stretch in the US, beginning on Thursday with the AT&T at Pebble Beach.
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