Lee Westwood Interview

I figured looking at the weather I needed to shoot about 65 to win the tournament. There were a lot of people up there, good players. Robert Karlsson has a good record when he is leading and Alex Cejka is proving what a good player he is in America this year. Others who have looked like winning but I knew if I made a few birdies early on and put some pressure on I might have a chance. Unfortunately didnít work out like that and didnít make a birdie until the ninth. Three putted the seventh but it gave me a lift with a good birdie on nine. Walking down ten I said to Pete (Coleman) lets get round the back nine in 30 now and we might just have a chance. I birdied the last three to come home in 30 so it was nice to make a prediction like that and it come off.

I entered four or five weeks before the tournament. I had plans to play three weeks in America and maybe take the next week off but I have played Switzerland a lot and not played the BMW and knew you needed to make a lot of birdies round here and that suited my game pretty well so it was a natural choice.

What was the difference this week to a number of false dawns?
Just the way I was controlling the ball, flighting the ball and distance control. Obviously very important to hole putts as well. Started to roll the ball pretty well with the belly putter in America. I have been using it on and off all year. I had never really given it a long run of tournaments to give it a chance. I have given it a chance over three weeks in America and came here this week knowing my short game was good and I was holing putts. It was getting better all the time and felt I had a chance. I was right.

How special is this moment?
It is very special. The last three years have been obviously the worst three years of my career. You learn a lot of things about yourself and people around you, handling different situations. I remember who has been there and tried to boost my confidence and who has disappeared into the background. It has been a huge learning process over the last three years and it is nice to come out of it winning this week. I won a bit sooner than I thought although knew the last three weeks in America would stand me in good stead back in Europe. Itís nice to win a tournament again. It is the first time back in contention. I knew I wouldnít lose the feeling of what it is like to win. I won 24 times in four years so knew if given a chance I have more often than not won a tournament so it was nice to get in the hunt and win a tournament at the first time of asking. Quietened a few people.

How close were you to quitting?
I was taking steps forward then taking big steps back and feeling I was further back than when I started. There were quite a few times when I felt like taking six months off and then coming back and seeing if it was still there but that would have been the easiest thing to do. I didnít think that was the way to go.

Things have been written in the papers and magazines about never coming back and never winning again. I do read those articles and it is hard to keep picking yourself up and putting a positive edge on it when all people are talking about and writing about are negatives and bad things. I feel I am sticking two fingers up to a few people sitting here now. It feels quite good.

Was the Ryder Cup a turning point for you?
I donít think I played that well in the Ryder Cup. I holed a lot of putts that week and had partners to fall back on. Given a situation like the Ryder Cup I felt I could scramble it round the course, make a few birdies and if I made triple or quadruple it doesnít matter. There was a bit of false hope for a lot of people there. The people that know me know I didnít have a great Ryder Cup. But since I saw David (leadbetter) in February he boiled everything down to this is the long and short term goals, this is what we are going to work on this week and on weeks off. The Ryder Cup was a bit of a confidence booster but I knew deep down it was not that big an improvement.

How much help was Pete?
He was a huge part of the win. I had never been here before so I didnít know what to expect of the gold course. He has been here a lot with Bernhard although he says he never won the tournament Ė he has now. Pete is probably the best caddie on Tour. He is one of the oldest and done just about everything. He said the right things at the right time and said nothing at the right time. We hit the right club all the time. He said it was easy to club me as I was hitting it more consistently so it was nice I made his life a bit easier this week.

Who has been most supportive?
My wife bas been supportive, my family, Chubby, friends. I was glad Stuart (Cage) was here as he knows what I have been through. David has been phoning two or three times a week since I have been seeing him so he has been very supportive. It was nice for my son to see me win as he has never seen me win a golf tournament. He was watching at home until he fell over. I think I jumped up and banged his head on a table.

How did you pair up with Pete?
Bernhard was planning on playing more in America and Pete, at his age, getting on a place for ten hours and getting on a plane, back for a week, off again for a week. The schedule Bernhard was playing and with the Ryder Cup captaincy, he was looking for more in Europe. I was looking for a caddie because Dave Renwick went back with Vijay which was the right decision the way I was playing. Everyone knows Pete is the best so he was the natural choice for me.

Was there a moment when you thought you didnít want to play any more?
I wouldnít say I didnít want to play any more but I could easily have jacked it in for six or eight months.

I had a bet on myself at the start of the week so knew I was playing well and had a chance. All week I felt pretty good. I will just let this win sink in. I have leanrt not to count my chickens. I am excited. I am looking forward more to playing this week than at the end of last week. Just going to enjoy this and go home and see my family and friends and have a drink. Maybe more than one.

What odds?
What odds do you think after the last three years. 66-1.

Would you take such a big break again?
If you look at it I only took about two months off. Which is not that long. I felt in the year or two before the technique was getting flawed and I was just getting by on adrenaline and the knack of winning. Maybe that was a blessing in disguise. I certainly know more now than three years ago. A lot of experiences.

I will have a quiet moment later to watch the highlights.


Press Archive - Golf
22nd August 2003 - Darren Clarke Foundation
8th August 2003 - Another Top 10 Hit For Coltart

28th July 2003 - Westwood Continues Climbs To Top
11th June 2003 - Gaylord, ISM and AJB Sports Form Worldwide Partnership
17th March 2003 - THE BRITISH MASTERS