Westwood back on top of Europe

Westwood back on top of Europe

DUBAI • England’s Lee Westwood was crowned Europe’s No. 1 golfer for the third time in his career with a second-placed finish behind compatriot Matthew Fitzpatrick, who won the European Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship yesterday.

Twenty years after he first lifted it, Westwood won the Harry Vardon Trophy again with a steady final round of four-under 68 at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai to go 14-under 274 for the tournament. He ended up one stroke behind Fitzpatrick, 26, who took home US$3 million (S$4 million).

Westwood won US$2 million after finishing at the top of the Race to Dubai leaderboard, while overnight co-leader Patrick Reed, 30, lost the chance to become the first American to claim the honour as he ended tied in third place with Viktor Hovland at 13-under.

“It’s been a bizarre season. The European Tour have done an incredible job to pick the season up again from July and have tournaments on every week,” Westwood, who had five birdies and a bogey, said. “The culmination of it all here, it was a great finish, sat there watching it. Thrills and spills, the Race to Dubai up for grabs and the tournament up for grabs.

“It’s been 20 years since I sat there at Valderrama, to win the Order of Merit as it was then. It’s not getting any easier, I’m not getting any younger.”

The world No. 47 added that he would love to play in the Ryder Cup again, with the event pushed to next year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“At some point, I’m hoping the captaincy is going to be offered,” the 47-year-old said. “I’ve played 10 Ryder Cups, at certain times, you have to move into different chapters of your life. If I did qualify, I would give it my all.”

Fitzpatrick, who had a share of the lead before the final round, began with birdies on the opening four holes and added a further gain before the turn and finished steadily to seal his first Rolex Series win. But it was insufficient to land the Race to Dubai honours as it was also dependent on Westwood finishing no higher than joint-third and Reed tied fourth.

Westwood is the oldest winner, pipping Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie, who was 42 when he won in 2005.