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Westwood passes test of endurance

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Iain Carter | 14:04 UK time, Sunday, 31 October 2010

Lee Westwood was down. Really down, as disappointed as he had ever been in a career that had already witnessed severe lows as well as massive highs.

It was time for a gentle pep talk because at this moment of huge despondency the path of his golfing life could quite easily have taken vastly contrasting directions.

Westwood had just blown the 2009 Open Championship. He'd three-putted from the front of Turnberry's final green to miss a play-off by a single shot. Not only that, he'd earlier squandered a decent chance of putting himself well clear of Stewart Cink and Tom Watson, the men who contested that shoot-out in his absence.

People remember that Open for the then 59-year-old Watson almost creating golf's greatest-ever story, but that championship should have been won by Lee Westwood and he knew it.

No-one played better golf than the Englishman on the Ayrshire links that week and he had let slip from his grasp his first major title. The disappointment for a 36-year-old apparently at the very height of his powers was crushing.

"He was on the floor the night and the day after that Open," recalls Westwood's long-time manager Andrew "Chubby" Chandler. "It was then that I told him he was the best player in the world and that he could decide to kick on from this or he could feel sorry for himself and disappear for a while.

"He is resilient, he does come back," Chandler added. And how he does, for the manager's prophecy has now become reality with Westwood ending Tiger Woods' five year reign as world number one.

Chandler rates the way Westwood responded to the disappointment of losing that Open alongside the way his charge rescaled the rankings after a total loss of form earlier in his career that saw him slip out of the world's top 250 players. It was an extraordinary fall for a former top five player.

"To go from no ranking to four in the world then back to 259 and now up to number one is quite some achievement," Chandler told me. "There's been a lot of hard work, a lot of will power and a lot of support."

When Westwood turned pro in 1993 he quickly learned how to win or rather it just happened as he reeled off title after title with apparent ease. There was no stress involved, he didn't truly appreciate what he was achieving as he climbed to a position of number four in the world.

Then his golf game fell apart. He was working on a swing change and was struggling at the 2001 Players Championship in Florida. Then along came his son Sam, his first child, and Westwood took a short paternity break.

When he returned to the game the new Dad had lost whatever it was that had taken him into the world's elite and he didn't know how to rediscover it. He went through different coaches and explored new techniques to no avail for around two years.

It was only when Westwood went back to the basic golfing principles that had been the bedrock of the early part of his career that he was able to start the climb back.

In 2000 he had won seven tournaments but it wasn't until late summer 2003 that he contended again and won. First he landed the BMW International Open in Germany and then the Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews.

Those wins felt so much sweeter. Now he knew what went into winning. In 2003 and 2004 Westwood climbed back into the European Tour's top 10 money winners, but slumped again in the next two seasons and needed a wildcard pick for the 2006 Ryder Cup.

It was around this time that he made the most significant change to his career by recruiting fitness coach Steve McGregor. "He's had a huge influence," Chandler says.

"He has put a lot of structure into Lee's life. All the work is done at home; Lee doesn't do any gym work on tour, but this structure has made the difference between being a very good player and a great player."

Westwood has his own gym at his Worksop abode, as well as a driving range, putting green and bunkers to practice his short game. "It's not just that he works hard, it is the quality of that work that sets him apart," Chandler said.

There is no hint that Westwood is now going to rest on the laurels of becoming officially the best player in the world. He knows that above everything he needs the major title that is commensurate with his undoubted golfing talents.

It has been that way for a while and it is why he was so disappointed to lose the 2009 Open. As soon as he won last year's season ending Dubai World Championship, the 37-year-old was looking forward to the next place he could win a major - Augusta.

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"One of the most amazing hours I have spent was the Thursday morning at the Masters when he was on the range warming up," Chandler remembers. "Knowing how much preparation had gone on and to see him hit perfect golf shots for an hour on the day he had to do it, I couldn't believe what I had just seen.

"He was absolutely tuned perfectly," Chandler added.

The same objective applies now as Westwood, in partnership with McGregor, seeks a permanent cure for the calf injury that severely curtailed his golf in 2010. Everything is being aimed at being in prime form for the Masters to give him his best chance of going one better than last year's runner-up finish.

Westwood is the fourth player to go to world number one before winning a major. He is desperately keen to follow in the spikemarks of Ian Woosnam, Fred Couples and David Duval - who each landed one of the big four titles after reaching the summit of the rankings.

Perhaps his biggest danger is to over-emphasise the majors, putting too much pressure on himself might prove counter productive. Chandler sees it differently: "I would think it is easier to win a major if you know you are better than everybody else and being world number one would suggest that," he said.

"The world of Lee Westwood is going to hopefully stay the same for quite a while and if it does there's no reason why he can't win majors."

Once he is again fully-fit everything will be in place. Westwood has the perfect supporting cast in his family, management and caddie Billy Foster. There's only one thing missing and the world number one is on a mission to make sure that doesn't remain the case for much longer.


  • Comment number 1.


    Though being a Brit living in the USA I find it quite tedious and frankly pathetic how many Americans over here whine and whinge about Westwood not deserving to be No.1

    Well done, Lee...

  • Comment number 2.

    World number 1, yet never won a major. Until he wins a major, Westwood will always be one of golf's nearly men. Being world number 1 is great, but winning a major championship would be even greater.

  • Comment number 3.

    I'm a massive fan and congratulations to him. But I think Westwood would be the first to admit that to be considered one of the greats, he needs to win a major.

  • Comment number 4.

    Congrats to Westwood, he deserves it based on how hes been playing recently.

    He will prove greatness if he can maintian the position and win his long awaited major. That will be the biggest challenge of his career.

    I wish him all the best.

  • Comment number 5.

    Lee Westwood IMO, is number 1 more for his consistency than anything else. He cannot legitimately claim to be number 1 until he wins a major, that is just the way it is.

    It is like Caroline Wozniaki, world number 1 in tennis, but no major!!!

  • Comment number 6.

    Well done and congratulations, Lee!

  • Comment number 7.

    Consistency is how you become number 1 hence Tiger's 600+ week stint. Not winning a major does not make you an undeserved world number 1.
    John Daly won two major's and never became world number 1!

  • Comment number 8.

    congratS Lee, u deserve it, hope u can stay there for a while

  • Comment number 9.

    @ gtp75, true that, but my point is, he now needs to consolidate that achievement by winning one.

    John Daly between winning majors, would play so badly, it would have been a travesty should he have made number 1.

  • Comment number 10.

    It's obvious from the way the rankings are calculated that to be "number one in the world" in golf means that you have been the most consistent player over a prolonged period. It's a great achievement, but it's a cumulative achievement attained over one or two years, rather than an immediate achievement (like a major win), attained by being the best player over a particular four day period.
    Westwood deserves his position, because the statistics don't lie; he's earned the number one spot.
    Is he a lesser player than, say, Oosthuizen, Glover, Immelmann or Yang? I would argue not, even though those players are holders of major titles they unquestionably earned.
    Winning a major won't necessarily get you remembered as one of the game's greats. However, your reputation as one of the greats will always be compromised if you don't have one.
    Like (I guess) all contributors to this thread, I hope Westwood puts together four good enough days at a major as soon as possible, but in the meantime, let's not say that the completely separate achievement of gaining the number one ranking is compromised by his failure to do so to date.

  • Comment number 11.

    Correct me if I am wrong but did Lee not think he needed a birdie at the 72nd at Ailsa for the play off and had a go at it, missing the return and a spot alongside Tom and Cink. Golf can be strange - remember all the first time major winners that started with Rich Beem's win. Micheel, Curtis, Hamilton, Johnson not to mention Mickelson and Harrington who went on to be multiple winners. If it is your turn, then so be it but I do not think one major makes you a great nor do I think a lack of one detracts from Lee's record, he has been a serious contender many times and that is good enough for me. A great? - no doubt about it.

  • Comment number 12.

    Despite all Tiger Woods off the field problems it took almost a year before anyone take his crown as world No.1 .Wow that shows what a great golfer he is. He deserve more credit and im sure he will be back..

  • Comment number 13.

    Honesty-in- sport wrote; Despite all Tiger Woods off the field problems it took almost a year before anyone take his crown as world No.1 .Wow that shows what a great golfer he is. He deserve more credit and im sure he will be back..

    This was a blog about Westwood's consistency over the last two years elevating him to world no.1 along with some valid comments about requiring a major to cement his repuation as one of the best golfers around..... who denigrated Woods' achievements to suggest he deserves more credit? He's had his fair share of praise over the years for being arguably the greatest golfer in the history of the game - now its Lee's turn. Well Done Mr Westwood.

  • Comment number 14.

    The Woods era has finally gone West.

    Long live the Westwood!

  • Comment number 15.

    Its not April 1 so you have to ask why since being No 1 with no major is a joke

  • Comment number 16.

    Congratulations, Lee Westwood!
    You must be riding high these days what with coming off that emotional performance at the 2010 Ryder Cup in Wales.
    Too bad (I selfishly say) that you've decided to shift priorities, devoting far less time to the PGA Tour. I guess this just goes to show that money (at least to you) is not everything.
    Westwood: "I'm not taking my card up in the States."
    Westwood cited "family" for his decision to focus on the European Tour. He has a wife and two young children.
    Westwood: "I don't want to get into a situation where I have to play events in America just to make up the 15 needed for tour membership. The FedEx Cup sits right in the middle of the kids' summer holidays and I like going on holiday with them for a couple of weeks."
    Westwood’s decision takes him out of contention for the Fed-Ex ($10,000,000 prize), but also shows how squarely his head is set upon his shoulders.
    Westwood will only play in the US at the three majors contested on US soil, the World Golf Championships, and maybe an event or two.
    Westwood: "As of Monday evening in Wales I became an individual again, and I do what's right for Lee Westwood now."

  • Comment number 17.

    Typical BBC. When Murray beats Federer it's "The Briton played superbly as he beat the 16-time Grand Slam champion." When Westwood overtakes the best it's "England's Lee Westwood became world number one". Why not "Britain's Lee Westwood?"

  • Comment number 18.

    I don't Westwood from Adam, but he seems a decent guy and I would swap my golf game for his in a flash.
    But, the World Rankings don't mean much apart from the guys who rely on the rankings to get into WGC events.
    Westwood is a consistent performer, but you can bet he would swap the Number 1 ranking for a major. He has had numerous chances to win majors but came up short every time. Almost without fail his chipping and putting let him down when it mattered the most. His chipping stroke in the heat of battle has been that of a club golfer at times.
    Don't get me wrong, I would dearly love to see Westwood lift a major trophy, he deserves it. But quite simply, he is not the best golfer in the world.

  • Comment number 19.

    It's a shame he will only have it for a week since Tiger will win the WGC event in Shanghai...

    Re: #17 Brian14 - So true.

  • Comment number 20.

    To all those who say Westwood can't be considered "great" until he wins a major, two words. Stirling Moss. He never won the World Championship but you won't find anyone in Formula 1 who doesn't consider him a great driver. It is possible to win a major because someone else misses a putt, but Westwood's consistency over time has deservedly earned him the No 1 spot.

  • Comment number 21.

    One point, i would like to make here is that one should not compare westwood with Wozniaci or Safina. Tennis and Golf are different games altogether. westwood is not losing to tiger or Mickelson or kaymer week in and week out.. He has been ahead of these players in most of the tournaments in last couple of years while Woznizcki or Safina only won when Williamses or clijsters or henin was nt around and had losing record aagainst them all......
    So, i for one beleive that winning a major would certainly boost hs claim on no.1 ranking but it is simply nt an undeserved ranking and he is THE REAL NO.1. I don't think, any one on the tour can claim like Serena every one knows who the REAL NO.1 is........

  • Comment number 22.

    Test of endurance is pure nonsense, i am glad he has made a recovery from the low point in his career to now BUT number one, big? I would like to see Westy or any player for that matter become number one when Tiger is actually playing well then the achievement would become something to shout from the roof top Iain C.

    @ Jeffrey, Opinions in one country ala England isn't always the same in other countries when you move away from this shore.

  • Comment number 23.

    I would totally agree with supergunner07. If Westwood had become #1 when Tiger is on his game, that would be an achievement.

    But then again, the English are so starved for any credible sporting success that it's little surprise that they are celebrating this in their usual over the top way.

    I was at the Ryder Cup saw Steve Stricker dismantle Westwood methodically.

    Westwood may be a great media story of the usual down and up...but I'm disappointed that the BBC is making such a big deal of it though.

    Whatever happened to being objective?

  • Comment number 24.

    The Dinara Safina* of world golf.

    * If your first reaction was "Who?", she was the world number 1 without winning a major, quickly forgotten.

    Westwood is only No.1 because Tiger took a break and never really recovered from the revelations. Next year, it will be Kaymer vs Woods vs Westwood vs Mickelson for the majors, and if Woods brings his A-game, the rest have no chance.

  • Comment number 25.

    After seeing that tennis No 1 Wozniaki (without a grand slam) got beaten by Clijsters, it just shows being No 1 is just a statistic and meaningless.....

    Bit like record A-level passes, can't let the poor dears get C's and D's and see where they really are on the scale of 1 to 10

  • Comment number 26.

    @23, we still have Lewis Hamilton

  • Comment number 27.

    He is a good golfer but won't be considered great until he wins a major.To give him credit he hasn't fallen apart after coming close to winning majors(step forward Mr.Garcia!) He has been consistent over the last 2/3 years and his consistency has led him to the number one spot.Is he deserving of it?Yes because on average of top 10 finishes,he is probably the best golfer in the world at the minute.Augusta next year is his big chance.He needs to prove to everyone why he is no.1,he can do it and I would like to see him do it.The term "nice guy" is bandied about a bit too often but Westwood seems like a man deserving of the accolade.
    Here's hoping that everything will be peaches and cream for Westwood in Georgia next April!

  • Comment number 28.

    I'm not a golf fanatic, but well done, Lee. You deserve it, though somewhat belatedly. Even if someone else takes it away, you still can say..."I've been there, and I've done it" Come on, you Yanks, give the guy his just desserts. After all, you've had your No1s for many years now !!

  • Comment number 29.

    Thank you for telling us about Lee Westwood being the new World no.1 on the 6:05 news on Sunday evening. However as I wanted to know it would have been very helpful if you had also told us about the tournament and the eventual winner Graeme McDowell. The tournament winner was not even mentioned!!! Congratulations to Lee as he has earned this honour.

  • Comment number 30.

    I am really pleased for Lee Westwood - But like so many have mentioned on here, he needs a major to be classed as a great in the game.

    To put it into context, what do people remember Ian Woosnam for..? Being number 1 in the world for 50 weeks, or winning the masters...


  • Comment number 31.

    How did he become No 1?
    Thanks to Tiger's mis-demeanours and long absence from the tour and Phil's wife's poor health!
    Dont get me wrong - he is a good player - but NOT in the same class as the above two. Its easy to get carried away by patriotic crap - but deep down, anyone who knows anything about golf, will know the truth

  • Comment number 32.

    Anandav (post 24) perhaps ought to remove the obvious chip he/she has on one or both shoulders before commenting. There is nothing over the top here. Whatever the circumstances, this is an achievement worthy of note and correctly caveated by so many other posters. Any reason for such misplaced bitterness?

  • Comment number 33.

    I read this article, saw that he hadn't won a major and I made a mental bet with myself on how many comments it'd take before someone brings up the Safina or Wozniacki comparison. Not surprising.

  • Comment number 34.

    there is is a large body of golfing pundit opinion - to which I subscribe - which suggests that the world golfing system is plainly bunk if a place at the apex goes to an injured golfer who has finished just one tournament in three months thereby overtaking an out-of -sorts golfer who has'nt won in a year!!And this by virtue of the fact that neither of them teed up a ball this week!one wonders whether the new incumbent, contrary to the author's express wish could make history by becoming the only

  • Comment number 35.

    CONTIUATION -becoming the only one never to win a MAJOR !!

  • Comment number 36.

    Great achievement for Westwood and will look great on his career statistics but he will not be world number 1 at this time next year, Mr Woods will be a new man come late spring.

  • Comment number 37.

    Well done Lee Westwood - not being an Englishman and having been born in US I hope my comments lack the bias of some of those above - Congrats Mr. Westwood you are Worlds No.1 Golfer - and seemingly a very decent guy to boot - well done and enjoy it. I cannot understand the painful bleating of the Tiger groupees [hey I admire him too, afterall he WAS the previous No.1]. Despite possibly/probably being the world's greatest ever golfer, he just isn't No.1 material at the moment - considering the huge points haul his previous super golf had given him it took a lot of not golfing [and to be quite honest plenty of his recently very bad golf] to fall back behind the current number one. Yes, Tiger can still amaze us with a fantastic shot every now and again he just hasn't been consistent enough to score well enough to stay in pole position. He's been missing more fairways than I do, and with his power he's futher than the middle of the fairway than a club please give the currently better golfers the respect they deserve. His days in the sun may well return but PLEASE give this man Westwood his dues.

  • Comment number 38.

    In reply to Post 24, I don't think there are too many people who would disagree that Westwood is a great golfer. I certainly think he is.
    However, he is not the best player in the world. Kaymer gets the job done more than Westwood. Westwood's ability this last couple of years is his consistenty (still not as consistent as Woods however - this year aside). Yes he's won tournaments, both the Race to Dubai finale which was a superb exhibition of golf, and he won in the States again.
    However, excluding this year, Tiger wins and wins regularly, not only that he wins majors and on top of that he is scarcely out of the top 10 every time he tees it up.
    So whilst the ranking may point in one direction, every pro golfer out there knows who the number one player in the world is

  • Comment number 39.

    Is Monty a golfing great? I suspect that his 8 successive euro tour titles and winning the Ryder cup both as player and captain puts him in that bracket.....albeit without a major under his belt. golf stats don't lie and Lee is, as was massively demonstrated at Celtic Manor, deserving of this accolade for as long as it lasts.

  • Comment number 40.

    Westwood may be No. 1 according to the OWGR, but he's not the best golfer in the world. No majors and only 2 wins in America over 13 years...and Stricker took him down at Celtic Manor. No way the world's best lets that match get away from him. Westwood's status is the result of a computer formula, nothing more, nothing less. He backed in as a result of a poor showing by Kaymer. He has no short game, he's still fat and yet the Limey press slobbers over him like he's Charles Atlas. In 6 months he'll be back where he belongs, at around 10th in the world.

  • Comment number 41.

    scottnyc you should be ashamed of yourself.....exactly who should be no1?...and if you mention Eldrick you'll need to go to rehab tomorrow

  • Comment number 42.

    Many congrats. to Lee Westwood, he may not have won a major yet, but he is still a great golfer, His win in Dubai last year was for me, one of the finest exhibitions of golf I can remember in a long time. How long he will remain No 1 will depend upon his performance, since there are lots of equally good golfers behind him, I hope he can win that elusive major next year, it will be the icing on the cake for him.

  • Comment number 43.

    It's a crazy system when you can get to number one without many wins - three tournament wins in three years makes him the worlds best player?

  • Comment number 44.

    World #1..........courtesy of a bevy of porn stars and a fire hydrant.

    But hey, whatever it takes.

  • Comment number 45.

    People saying that Westy doesn't deserve this and start spouting about woods and his consistency. Yes, woods is arguably THE greatest golfer of all time. But right now, he isn't making the grade. People are comparing the golf rankings to that of tennis but I'd prefer to ask who is the best golfer a different way. If I hit 300 yard drives straight down the fairway everytime and someone else who usually ends up in the rough 240 off the tee and then hits a sweet 350. Who is the better? Hopefully without babbling on too much it's also like running. A 100m and a 400m sprinter. Who is fastest? The way Golf rankings are measured Westwood has ended up topping it so how can anyone say he doesn't deserve it?!
    Well done Lee!

  • Comment number 46.

    Isn't the real story here the inadequacy of the current method of rankings ? (...and the same inadequacy also happens in tennis ) If people who have never succeeded at the highest level are ranked number one then the current system of rankings falls into disrepute... and will be seen as such by the public

  • Comment number 47.

    It's sad when a sporting achievement brings so many sad, bitter people out of the woodwork.

    Americans who are bitter because someone from another country has somehow taken their 'divine' right to be number one at everything...

    British who just love to queue up to knock down anyone who achieves anything.

    Last time I checked, Tiger has not been banned from golf, so was free to enter as many tournaments as he wanted... brilliant logic by some people here how that somehow becomes Lee's fault.

  • Comment number 48.

    People complaining about the rankings should remember this: Tiger, with the horrible 2010 year he had, should have lost his N°1 spot a long, long time ago...

    But in 2009, he was still the very best, and had three times more points than anyone else in the world: it then took a whole year for these points to disappear!

    If the rankings reflected performances over ONE year and not two, Westwood had a chance to become N°1 this summer, after winning Race to Dubai at the end of a great 2009 season, and with a couple of runner-ups in majors just before the summer... and right now, the N°1 would be Kaymer, with three wins in a row including a major...

    The "problem" in 2010 was that all the points usually gained by Tiger have been gained by many other players, maybe 20 or 30 amongst the actual top 50, not only one or two of them... nearly everybody in the top 20/30 had a chance to become N°1, especially Mickelson and Stricker who were very close, but haven't been able to play their best golf at the right time...

    So in the end, CONGRATS to Westwood for his consistency and his skills: he deserves his top spot, as the system is exactly the same for all the best golf players in the world...

    Now, will he stay N°1 for long? Next week's WGC is already a good test, as all the best players will be there... with a win, Mickelson, Kaymer or Tiger could get the top spot as well, so: good for the game...

  • Comment number 49.

    What do points mean, 'Points mean Prizes' hurrah! The last Brit to hold No1 was Faldo and at 90 odd weeks at No1 he deserved it. So Lee you are going to have to win some major points if you want to do not want be the shortest week No 1. In the same breath it was by default but you are consistent the same as Monty was and just maybe you are or could be a little better.

  • Comment number 50.

    As always, World rankings are issued at 12:00 noon every Monday - Westwood will be confirmed no. 1 then, and not before.

  • Comment number 51.

    Anyone have any idea what ranking Woods would have if players were judged over only 1 year instead of 2? I'd be surprised if he made the top 20.

  • Comment number 52.

    No Major, irrelevent being top, like those obscure female Russian tennis playewrs that top the list in WPT...

  • Comment number 53.

    he won't win a major.

  • Comment number 54.

    World number 1, yet never won a major. Until he wins a major, Westwood will always be one of golf's nearly men. Being world number 1 is great, but winning a major championship would be even greater.

    Whata stupid statement and one so many so-called golfing fans seem to make.

    Tiger Woods, Greg Norman, Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros, Ian Woosnam, Nick Price, Vijay Singh, Fred Couples, David Duval, Ernie Els, Bernhard Langer, Tom Lehman - The world #1s, all of them pretty much considered to be among the best ever. Compare that to major winners such as Oosthuizen, Yang, Glover, Beem, Hamilton and Lawrie. On name basis alone the #1 spot surely shows itself to be a much greater guide to who the best golfers are.

  • Comment number 55.

    Typical BBC. When Murray beats Federer it's "The Briton played superbly as he beat the 16-time Grand Slam champion." When Westwood overtakes the best it's "England's Lee Westwood became world number one". Why not "Britain's Lee Westwood?"
    In Tennis players register as GB, in golf they register as England, Scotland, Wales etc.

  • Comment number 56.

    To put it into context, what do people remember Ian Woosnam for..? Being number 1 in the world for 50 weeks, or winning the masters...
    For being one of the best golfers of his generation over a long period, something that trumps either. The titles and rankings are a reward for that.

  • Comment number 57.

    To all those Tiger fans who are indignant that their player is not the World number one at the moment I say this. Yes, Tiger is the best player in the world. At this best he would beat anybody. But over the last 2 years, judging by the criteria that determines the world golf rankings, Lee Westwood is the number one. There is a difference between these and I think you need to sort it out in your heads before complaining about who tops the rankings.

    Personally, I hope Lee goes from strength to strength and wins that elusive major in 2011 (or maybe 2).

  • Comment number 58.

    Never won a Major, the Players Championship or a World Golf Championship, very good player but to be number one in the world seems to me a rather tainted accolade. Another thing to become number one by not playing, that doesn't give the ranking system much credibility either.

    I hope that Westwood can go out next season and win a Major and hopefully not totally bottle it as he has on every occasion he's been in the position to win one.

  • Comment number 59.

    #58 - absolute nonsense, but then you are a Spurs fan I suppose (sorry, couldn't resist after the tosh being spouted by some of them in the last 2 days).

  • Comment number 60.

    Lee is world No1 by virtue of the fact that he has currently accumulated more points than the others in the front order of the ranking, and not that he has won anything of note in his recent tournaments. Won by default, would you say?? So, he didn't make the rules - just give him a bit of credit, he isn't a bad player at all. Who knows, someone else might nick it from him tomorrow !!

  • Comment number 61.

    Firstly I want to say a massive congratulations to Lee Westwood. It is great to see his consistency and resilience rewarded after close to 17/18 years at the top of the european and world game.

    A point to the people who say "No major, no right to be world number 1 and considered one of the game's greats". This is an understandable argument but in reality not exactly true; when all is said and done who from the following lists will be remebered as golfing greats and who won't be?

    Have won a major;
    Todd Hamilton.
    Michael Clark.
    Shaun Micheel.

    Have NOT won a major;
    Sergio Garcia.
    Colin Montgomerie.
    Lee Westwood.

    Point proven? (also all non-winners are European and with 3 out of the 4 majors being played in the US is this a coincidence?)

    Also to comment no23 - no credible english sporting success? Really?

    3 golfers in the World's top 10. (Until very recently it was 4!)
    English cricket team Ashes winners and T20 World Champions.
    Jenson Button 2009 F1 World Champion.
    Lewis Hamilton 2008 F1 World Champion.
    Amir Khan and David Haye World Champions.
    Most successful track cycling and sailing teams in 2008 Olympics.
    2003 Rugby Union World Champions and 2007 finalists.
    Ronnie O'Sullivan.
    Phil Taylor.
    English football team.....ok, forget that one.

    Things are that bad are they..?!!

  • Comment number 62.

    Fantastic Lee
    It's great to see a nice guy on top of the rankings at last.

  • Comment number 63.

    Good on yer, Lee - frankly I was getting bored with Tiger Woods always being number 1...

  • Comment number 64.


    I think you are mixing great player with golfing great.

    Before he won a major Greg Norman was extremely sensitive about the subject and on several occasions said that plenty of the games greats had never won a major. Finally, in interview someone plucked up the courage to ask him to name one. He could'nt.

    Monty is the only one with a possible argument as being a golfing great never to win a major, but interestingly Monty himself saw the winning of a major as putting the final finishing gloss on his career. He is now defined by his achievements in the Ryder Cup, rather than the arguably greater achievement of winning 8 European Order of Merit titles.

    Sports greats are defined by their ability to win the biggest prizes in their sport, until Garcia, Westwood et al win majors they will be great players, but not greats of the game. No one is saying, however, that to win a major makes you a golfing great. You must be the entire package.

    World's number 1 - no doubt a great acholade and a tremendous achievement, but, which one do you think he wants more? Which one do you think the public remembers? Do we say, "do you remember all those weeks when Faldo was world number one" or do we say, "do you remember when Faldo came from behind to win the Open"?

    Your list of players to have won majors, I can tell you that I have no idea who was world number one when Shaun Micheel hit the shot to around 2 inches to win the PGA (it was probably Tiger though).

    Michael Clark?

  • Comment number 65.

    Well done Lee.

    What I didn't know was that all other previous holders of the #1 ranking had or went on to win a major.

    WOW, talk about heaping more pressure on his shoulders.

    The phrase 'greatest player never to win a major' has been around for a while, now we've got a new one, 'First #1 ranked player never to win a major'

    That's got to be counter productive to your confidence, on the other hand, it might add steel to his efforts to get one. Hope it's the latter.

  • Comment number 66.

    At last! Congratulations Westy. Just need Forest to kick on now!! (and a major would be nice but thats for next year!!). Well done mate.

  • Comment number 67.

    Now while I agree that Westwood becoming world number 1 is big news. I also see that Graeme McDowell winning at Valderama was worthy of a headline on the BBC website. Would he have got a mention if the new world number 1 wasn't English?? Who knows? Well done to Lee Westwood but the chap didn't even swing a club. Graeme McDowell deserves more respect for winning last week.

  • Comment number 68.

    Westwood has undoubtedly got the talent to win a Major but it is also undoubtedly true, that up to now he hasn't had the nerve. This was true of Lefty but he did find the mental strength to win that first one and after that went on to win more.

    I hope Lee follows Mickelson's route and not Monty's. To be fair to Monty I think he was unlucky not to win a Major, whereas Westwood has bottled it when in the position to win.

  • Comment number 69.

    40. At 10:49pm on 31 Oct 2010, ScottNYC wrote:
    "Westwood's status is the result of a computer formula, nothing more, nothing less"

    That would be the same computer formula that gave Tiger his #1 status then...

  • Comment number 70.

    Really pleased for Westwood, and it really has been a truly remarkable come back from a position of apparent golfing oblivion in 2001. He has been the most consistent performer in professional golf over the last couple of years, and for all the bias of American golfing supporters, they would struggle to deny that. He clearly has the huge ability to win a major, and if he can secure a first then that will silence critics, and I wouldn't be surprised if more follow.
    It was interesting that in narrowly missing out at the Masters it was Mickelson who beat him, and who he spoke to afterwards... There are few golfers who could be compared in ability to Westwood, or coming so close to winning, and could give better advice from experience. Hopefully we can compare Westwood to ending his long wait, like Mickelson, not just coming so near for so long despite being one of the best golfers on the planet...

  • Comment number 71.

    It was quiet funny reading some of these comments, you can tell in most cases where the contributor was based. You will with mine too!!!

    First of all congratulations Lee

    As many has commented already on here, greatness does not come from playing 4 good rounds of golf or one good match of football or any other analogy you like to use. Who can argue that to become No. 1 in any sport is easy and undeserving; if they can they are not true sports fans as they don’t know what it takes to get to this position.

    For those who argue he didn’t achieve this when Tiger Woods was at his best, well no he didn’t but neither did Tiger when Nick Faldo or Greg Norman where at the top of their game, it is all relative. Without a question Tiger Woods is one of the best, if not the best golfer there has been and I am not saying he will not return to this position in the future. What like many people on here are pointing out is that the No.1 spot should go to who has performed consistently over the given period.

    Does Lee Westwood need to win a major to deserve this position? - NO, I personally do not think so.
    Does he want to? - Without any question of doubt and will he? I think he will.

    Sport is all about pressure, yes he hasn’t delivered previously when being in a position to do so, however neither did Phil until he had been there a number of times and like him I think if he wins one, more will follow.

    I think some people are miss-interpreting what the No. 1 spot is all about, it’s not to recognise or pedestal the best player there has ever been, but it is to recognise the best player who is performing over the set period and to say Lee does not deserve this is a frankly a joke.

  • Comment number 72.

    World number 1? what a load of tosh!! he doesnt fit the bill at all...dont understand these ranking systems, winning a few mushroom tournaments here and there shouldnt make you the best payer on the planet.Is like a Dinara Safina being world number 1, or a Jelena Jankovic, simply bc they've won a few tournaments on the tour or played a lot more. Lee has consistently proved that bar Ryder Cup, in tournaments with the Top 3 or 4 playing, he is the greatest choker or hasnt got the game to see him over the line.Personally I think Kaymer or Phil will be worthy to fill Tiger's boots, or even McDowell.
    3 yrs from now, I guarantee we'll be saying,"one time world number one who never won a major"

  • Comment number 73.

    I am frankly shocked at the number of contibutors to this blog who havn't got a good word to say for Lee Westwood. I read on the 606 blog a comment which was beneath contempt as it accused Westwood of feigning injury.

    Is there something wrong with golf fans who cannot congratulate someone on their achievement or is the disgraced Woods the only golfer in existence.

    I personally think it's absolutely fantastic that a British golfer is world No.1 and am sure this will spur him on to prove all his critics wron and win big time.


  • Comment number 74.

    47. At 07:56am on 01 Nov 2010, Kent C Strait wrote:
    Americans who are bitter because someone from another country has somehow taken their 'divine' right to be number one at everything


    And well done our Lee!

    As for the Americans who can't take it - boohoo. Stuff you, America! You're NOT the best in everything after all.

    PS. In fact, you're overrated.

  • Comment number 75.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 76.

    Oh thank God. I had become dead tired of Tiger Woods always getting 24 hour face time with the press. There are other bright stars in the firmament and there is more to the Universe than Tiger Woods who everytime I see him recalls to me the pop song "Smiling faces tell lies and I've got proof". Can you dig it?

  • Comment number 77.

    Lots of golfers have assumed the title, No1. But it's a measure of greatness if you can stay there and fend off all-comers. Does Westwood deserve to be there?...looking at his recent performances, they don't look out-of-the-ordinary; but he goes by the book and didn't bribe anyone to elevate him there where he is. So, come on Lee, prove to us all that you are fit to be the best golfer in the world, at least according to the points-scoring system !!

  • Comment number 78.

    As much as I've admired Tiger's great achievements in the past, it's important that if Westwood's achievement of getting to no.1 is downscaled then Woods' recent form is too.

    - Just like Westwood, Tiger has not won a major in the two year span which the World Rankings occur. Despite his problems, he's played in more majors than Westwood in that time too, with Westwood missing the PGA Championship this year through energy at the peak of his powers.

    - Even before Tiger's off-course troubles, I felt his aura was failing slightly at the end of 2009. First of all, for the first time in his career he failed to close out a major, beaten by Yang and playing poor golf in the final round. That was followed in quick succession by further collapses in the WGC in Shanghai and the Tour Championship, both triumphed by Mickelson.

    - Tiger hasn't even seriously contended a tournament this year, never mind won one. It was becoming a bit of a farce that he was the no.1 player in the world the way he has played this year.

    - Westwood hasn't won a major tournament yet but he's never played better than now. Judge him in a year or two years time, the guy deserves to be no.1 at this moment of time, he's not the choker people claim him to be. The only one he's really blown at all is the 2009 British Open, the Masters Mickelson was inspired, the Open Oosthuizen was inspired. One of these days he'll be the inspired player in the final round of a major, it has to be only a matter of time.

    - He deserves to be no.1 because no-one else took advantage. Mickelson has won four majors and I would have liked to see him finally get the no.1 position he deserves after all these years. But when it mattered he played rubbish golf. Kaymer was too far behind. Also take into account that Westwood's game is probably the best in the world at the moment. Supreme driver and iron player and an excellent putter, only chipping letting him down. At the end of the day, it all matters on this weeks event, it's up to Westwood to sustain it.

    Finally, bringing Westwood's loss to Stricker in the singles in the Ryder Cup as a reason of not deserving no.1 is a bit daft whenever Stricker is a fine player himself who was on fire with the putter that day. Interesting to note that whoever brought that up failed to mention Westwood and Donald's hammering of Woods and Stricker in the same event a day earlier.

  • Comment number 79.

    First off, I don’t play golf, though my finacée tries to get me out (she was a good player in her early days), but I do like watching it on TV. That said, we do occasionally go out to the pitch and putt or the driving range (usually at Leopardstown, Co Dublin). Albeit, she does know her golf (and ballet)... a good Foxrock gal. I know diddly squat about the sport, as such.

    My first love is mountaineering (rock, ice, alpine, big wall, etc), and I have played for semi-pro football (soccer) teams in England, Ireland and in my home state California (college and university as well).

    Okay, by the stats, Westwood is number one. But think about it, as a (former) athlete, I would think trophies as a primary achievement, stats as a secondary objective, though nice of course.

    It is one thing to thing to tell your grandchildren that you were ranked number one for x amount of time, but to show them a trophy on the shelf, well... that is the icing on the cake.

    Sure Holland were perhaps the better side in 1974 and 1978, but uh, where’s the trophy? Sure, France was the best team in 1982 (I was at the France-West Germany semi-final in Seville in 1982), but...

    Sometimes the better team/man/woman does not always win.

    Congrats to Westwood, now back it up with a major trophy dude.


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