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Thursday, 4 November 2010

Westwood's rise and fall

Lee Westwood is a perfect example of why sport is loved and adored by many all over the world.

A little over eight years ago, Westwood was at the lowest point of his career. Sitting at number 250 in the world after getting up to the heights 4th in 2001, many people felt that he was another British golfing failure that could not live up to high expectations.

When he was a youngster coming through the ranks it was widely believed that he had the potential to win majors and become the best golfer on the planet.

In 1996, aged 23, he won his first professional event, the Volvo Scandinavian Masters, and just a few days later he followed that up with a second win.

The year 200 proved to be an almost unrecognisable Westwood's best year winning seven torunamnets including the matchplay and ending Colin Montgomery's reign as Europe's number one.

He continued to succeed and the expectations began to rise. In May 2001 Westwood climbed up to number four in the world and it looked almost a certainty he would keep on rising.

But, in October 2002, Westwood became a father when his son Samuel was born and as a result took a lenthgy break from the game and therefore dropped outside the world's top 200.

During this time he began to resurect his swing with David Leadbetter and it took him a while until he could get back and challenging again.

Lee Westwood and Luke Donald congratulate each other after a crushing 6&5 win over Woods and Stricker at the 2010 Ryder Cup.

Now, after a miraculous turnaround, he is the best golfer on the planet and rightly so thanks to some superb consistent golf.

He could of course lose it in just 3 days time if either Woods, Mickleson or Kaymer win the HSBC champions challenge but whatever happens Westwood has proved himself to be a worldclass golfer who can compete against any player in the world.

This was emphasised by some stunning golf he produced during the Ryder Cup, highlighted by the destruction of American's top paring, Woods and Stricker, with partner Luke Donald.

Much of his recent success his puts down to Manchester City's fitness coach Steve McGregor, who has taken a lot of the credit for Westwood's transformation.

Westwood has always had the skill, talent, class and temperament to become the world's best golfer but it remains to be seen if he can win the ultimate and elusive first major title.

With ten top ten finishes in majors over the past 13 years, including five top threes in the last two years, there can be no doubt that he has what it takes to win a major.

He suffered heartbreak twice this year as he came runner-up in the Open, albeit finishing way behind winner Louis Oosthuizen, and also finished second behind Phil Mickleson in the Masters.

But whatever the case, Westwood is a class act and with 32 professional wins, including 20 on the European tour, he has already achieved so much and at 37 there's no doubt he has time to win more.

One thing is for sure though and that is Westwood's career will always be measured by whether or not he manages to win a major, if so then he'll be regarded as a success, if not then it will be a failure.

Maybe becoming number 1 will give Westwood an extra boost to go that one more step but with more and more youngsters pushing for the top he will have to strike soon or his major dream may be just one step too far.

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