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Westwood’s hard work paying dividends

Lee Westwood said his hard work to rid himself of the putting blues may finally be paying off after he found a perfect touch to snatch the joint lead at the WGC-HSBC Champions on Saturday.

The former world number one was in electric form at southern China's Mission Hills as he shot 11-under-par 61, matching his lowest round on the European Tour, helped by the timely return of his hot putter.

Lee Westwood said his hard work to rid himself of the putting blues may finally be paying off after he found a perfect touch to snatch the joint lead at the WGC-HSBC Champions. Credit: REUTERS

Westwood, 39, holed putts from 30 feet, 20 feet and two from 15 feet on the back nine to catch Louis Oosthuizen at the top of the leaderboard -- after also carding a 61 at the World Golf Final in Turkey, where he reached the final.

Together with his performance in Europe's Ryder Cup victory, recent weeks have seen a surge by the Englishman who sacked his long-time coach Pete Cowen in August after missing the PGA Championship cut, his 59th Major without a win.

“Over the last month, month-and-a-half, I've been working hard on my putting and I've started to see a few more go in,” Westwood said.

“But today I felt really confident on the greens and actually looked at 20-footers thinking, yeah, I'm going to make this one.”

Westwood now has a shot at his 11th win in Asia and his second on the European Tour this year -- and the biggest pay-day of his career, with $1.2 million going to the winner.

“I'm starting to hit the ball where I need to hit it. So it's easier to judge which way the ball is going to break and what speed the ball is going to come off the putter,” he said.

“I've been hitting it out of the toe a lot and that puts a bit of spin on it and it's difficult to get a true roll. Now I'm starting to get true roll. I've never had any problems lining up, it's just a case of picking the right line.”

Westwood also hopes his impending move to the warmer climate of Florida would cure his bad habit of starting seasons slowly. He tends to finish strongly and has enjoyed four wins in Asia in the past two seasons.

“Quite a few tournament victories have been in Asia, and it's generally pretty hot here and it was quite steamy out there today,” he said. “Obviously the conditions suit me.

“Other than that, I don't really know the reason for playing well,” he added. “Must be the nasi goreng or rice or something like that.”

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