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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Buoyed Lee Westwood ready for challenge at DP World Tour Championship

Englishman confident of carrying momentum of Nedbank Golf Challenge victory to Dubai

Lee Westwood broke his four-year winless run with a title at the Nedbank Golf Challenge. EPA
Lee Westwood broke his four-year winless run with a title at the Nedbank Golf Challenge. EPA

Lee Westwood returned to the European Tour's winner’s circle on Sunday after four years outside it, although the victory in Sun City elicited mixed reactions his children.

His son, Sam, takes a keen interest in the game and therefore his father’s fortunes, evidenced when he caddied for the former world No 1 at Valderrama a few weeks back. So, according to Westwood, Sam was “delighted and full of chat”.

His daughter, Poppy? Not so much.

“You know, ‘Oh, who's a clever boy then?’” Westwood said in Dubai on Tuesday. “That's what I got from her.”

Tough crowd. To be fair, Westwood went on to explain how Poppy was obviously proud of Pops, whose win at the Nedbank Golf Challenge – his third success at the tournament – snapped a drought dating back to April 2014.

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The waterworks came afterwards in the live TV interview with Sky Sports Tim Barter, where Westwood choked up attempting to describe what a 24th victory on the circuit meant to the now 45-year-old player. Predictably, the tears garnered plenty of attention.

“I don't mind a little cry every now and again,” Westwood said. “I cry at films about animals and stuff like that. You know, it was an emotional time. If something means a lot to you, then you're going to be emotional when it turns out right and when it happens.

"You doubt yourself all the time. The older you get, the more you do that, and you start so think, 'Am I getting too old now?'; 'Is it going to happen again?'; 'Am I still good enough?' Absolutely, it's a natural human reaction I think."

As the final-round 64 and the three-shot victory suggests, he was clear-headed when it mattered.

“I controlled my emotions well all day when I needed to," Westwood said. "And to be honest, whenever I'm interviewed by Tim Barter, it makes me feel like crying.”

Westwood has had little time to gather his thoughts – he flew straight to Dubai – and is almost straight into this week’s DP World Tour Championship, which brings down the curtain on the 2018 European Tour.

Westwood won the inaugural event in 2009, an incredible performance around a nascent Earth Course that cemented his position as Europe's No 1. Clearly, he returns this time in fine fettle. And, sometimes, victories are like buses.

“I'm experienced enough and won enough tournaments often enough, and won tournaments back-to-back, to know that you can kick on from something like this and use that confidence and momentum I've got from playing well on Sunday in the final round into this week,” Westwood said.

“Because I've only got one tournament left this year before I put the clubs away before Abu Dhabi next year. It would be nice to carry last week's confidence and form into this week.

“Obviously it's a golf course that suits me and I've played well on and I've got a pretty good game plan for. So why not make the most of it?”