x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Westwood has to take abuse to be captain

Lee Westwood said at the start of what developed into a captivating week at Valhalla that he would like to captain Europe's Ryder Cup team in the future.

Lee Westwood said at the start of what developed into a captivating week at Valhalla that he would like to captain Europe's Ryder Cup team in the future. Aspiring officers to that level of sporting prominence need to be better equipped to deal with adversity than the Englishman has been on his visit to the US. Whatever abuse Westwood took from the Kentucky crowd - insults towards his mother were the most offensive - he should have taken it on the chin and prepared to fight another day when it would be his turn to undermine the new Cup holders at Celtic Manor in 2010. Westwood will be seen as a sore loser by the American camp.

Paul Azinger, the American captain, had warned his opponents beforehand that the home team were seeking to include "a 13th man" - the vociferous Valhalla gallery - and that 13th man rose to the occasion when their captain demanded their support. Westwood, 35, steeped in Ryder Cup experience, hinted at his grumpiness on the opening day when he attacked Boo Weekley's outrageous behaviour in whipping up fans' frenzy. True, that kind of thing is out of place in professional golf but it happens, and the European team feared it would as they prepared to defend their trophy.

Westwood, who experienced at close hand the acrimonious scenes at Brookline in 1999 when the Americans won, said: "I have been abused from start to finish. Some of the stuff that's been said to me this week is shameful." But Azinger said: "I thought the crowd was phenomenal. So the incidents, if there were some, were few and far between." wjohnson@thenational.ae