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Supreme Westwood provides perfect Dubai finale

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Iain Carter | 16:03 UK time, Sunday, 22 November 2009

Lee Westwood left the BBC 5 live radio booth, beer in hand, with a trademark quip. "I'll be on 606 later, you can read me on the message boards," he said with a satisfied smile.

And how his band of followers should get on there to congratulate the newly crowned European number one after a truly stunning display in the desert.

Having covered the Tour for the last seven seasons I am struggling to recall a more dominant performance in such a significant event. You probably have to go back to Nick Faldo's 1996 demolition of Greg Norman at Augusta before you can identify better golf from an Englishman.

Westwood played with a deadly calm, succeeding fully in the objective given to him by caddie Billy Foster to bully his way to the Dubai World Championship title and Race to Dubai crown.

westwood_caddie_getty_blog.jpgCaddie Billy Foster and Lee Westwood celebrate the golfer's Dubai success

With both titles on the line he was bogey free in compiling weekend rounds of 66 and 64. It was the best golf of Westwood's life.

His objective from here has to be to harness that mental approach at the majors. If he does watch out; green jackets, claret jugs and the rest of the most prized trophies in the game could easily be making their way to Westwood Towers.

It is hard to imagine anyone in the world being capable of beating him in the form he showed in dropping just two shots in 72 holes on the Earth Course and that includes Tiger Woods.

OK it wasn't a major but he was determined to overhaul Rory McIlroy in the Race to Dubai and he was treating it with the intensity of one of the big four championships as he sought to overcome the disappointment of missing out on the Open at Turnberry in July.

Clearly his partnership with Foster has provided the missing link. Westwood has never been one for the mind gurus ("They all look funny don't they," he once said) but Foster has effectively provided that role.

"We are good mates," Westwood said. "You're never quite sure how that's going to turn out when you start working with somebody you get on really well with."

Well it has worked out just fine and Foster has the confidence and caddie intelligence to administer the right advice at the right time. He was in Westwood's ear the entire 72 holes to ensure his boss's mind was in the right place.

"I'll probably get done by the stewards for excess whipping," Foster told this blog. "I just worked really hard on making him focus on every shot and worrying about what he has to do and not worry about what anybody else was doing."

It was the perfect advice, best illustrated by McIlroy's performance this week. Finishing third was a fine effort and would ordinarily have been enough to secure a money-list title given the lead he held going into the final event.

But his admission that he would be happier playing with someone other than Westwood after the first round could only embolden the eventual champion and it did. McIlroy will learn and in the meantime we should be grateful for his candour.

To have heard the number of players raving about McIlroy's ball striking this week was convincing in the extreme, especially if his game on the greens tightens up. He's only 20 and runner up in the Race is some achievement.

But it is Westwood who is rightly Europe's number one. Foster has caddied for many great ball strikers; Darren Clarke, Sergio Garcia and in the absence of Steve Williams he is the man Woods has turned to for caddie duties.

"He is as good a ball striker as there is tee to green," Foster says of his current employer and he isn't surprised that Westwood is back in the winner's circle so soon after breaking his season duck in Portugal.

rory_blog.jpgRivals raved about McIlroy's ball striking in Dubai

"I figured that would take him back to the Westwood of old. He was the best closer in golf bar none 10 or12 years ago," Foster said.

It was the perfect scenario for the European Tour and their Middle Eastern hosts to have the Race decided by the winner of the inaugural Dubai World Championship.

Don't be fooled into thinking the Earth Course was a pushover because the winning score was 23 under par. "I'd have been quite happy to walk off there 16 or 17 under," said Foster.

The layout stood up well to the test and looked good on television. It'll never be a classic - it is a resort course tweaked enough to test the pros.

Was the Race to Dubai a success? It's a question I've been asked several times this week and on balance you would have to say yes. It provided a thrilling climax to the year and it felt as though it generated more attention than previous Orders of Merit.

You may be a better judge - did it do it for you?

Given the economic difficulties in Dubai at the moment it was right that the European Tour sought to cut prize money by 25%. It was still a massive investment by the Emirate and the idea is to use golf to sell property.

That will be the measure. Tour boss George O'Grady says "we are part of the solution" to the financial woes that have silenced so many cranes in these parts - let's hope the Dubai paymasters share his view.

In the meantime it's off to the 606 pages to check out what the new champion of Europe has to say and what you have to say to him. I'd start with a "very well done....."


  • Comment number 1.

    Can I be the first on this blog to say a massive "Well done, Lee". I've followed his career since he first arrived on the pro scene, and I have always wanted him to win above anyone else. I sat enthralled this morning watching some truly stunning golf. I sincerely hope this catapults him into the major winners circle next year. I have one question for him if he sees this: How on earth do you hit your driver so well? Truly awesome.

  • Comment number 2.

    Just feel compelled to write and congratulate Lee Westwood on a fantastic fautless and truly memorable win in the Dubai World Golf Championship. He has proved yet again that he is truly the best European and British player bar none, and to cap it all he also supports Nottingham Forest - Brilliant !!

  • Comment number 3.

    Hey, Good article - Unfortuantly I was off sick since Thursday but got to watch the golf here in the US.

    I thought Lee played a great game today - he went out did his thing and stay focused. I am so glad he won.

    Rory did well also and really was kinda down until the 9th hole where he started to get some birdie's and momentum - I think the 3 bogeys yesterday were is undoing. It will be interesting next yeat when he is on the US PGA Tour - alot of network's over here like him so I think he will do well myself.

    I would love to see more UK/Europe players over in the US it would be good prepartion for the ryder cup.

  • Comment number 4.

    Congratulations to Lee awesome golf, I hope he now goes on to win a Major. How nice to see Bingley's own Billy Foster getting a write up. What a weekend for Billy with Leeds United winning 3-0 away from home and Lee's fine win. Carlsberg don't make weekends but if they did they would be something....

  • Comment number 5.

    HOW can you comment on the great ball strikers for whom Billy Doster has caddied & ignore his few years with Seve?

  • Comment number 6.

    Hugely pleased to see Westwood on top form again, he seems to be peaking just at the right point if we talk in RC terms. As a Northern Irishman obviously disappointed for Rory, but I have every confidence his time(s) will come. Perhaps just a little concerning to see that neither Kaymer or Fisher put up any challenge when they knew they were in with a shot.

    Foster to caddy for Lee from now on me thinks?

  • Comment number 7.

  • Comment number 8.

    Good blog Iain, Westwood was absolutely invincible, sublime, a model of composure and confidence all week. If he can take that attitude on with him he can challenge Tiger Woods. You rightly commented that in '99,2000 there was no better finisher of golf tournaments and I'd say he can equal Tiger in that department.

    McIlroy is young, but so was Sergio Garcia, he must learn that 6 birdies and 3 bogeys a round will not win golf tournaments. He needs to be a bit more ruthless. I'm also from N.Ireland and it's fantastic to watch him but he has so many similarities to Garcia it's scary. I hope he learns his lesson. He had plenty of chances to win this tournament and the last one in HK. I believe that he will be gutted by not having done enough and will wreak his revenge on the US PGA Tour next year!!

  • Comment number 9.

    Inspirational golf that just makes you want to go out and hit ball after ball. Watched most of the tournament, and without exception cannot recall two closing rounds of such class (the first two were rather disappointing!!) So, many congratulation to Lee, particularly for coming through the difficult times, and showing to everyone that hard work, patience, self belief and dedication bring results......serious results!

    Its interesting to note that the TV coverage and a couple of comments here focus on Lee's sublime long game - true, but I've watched many tournaments this year, and the long game has always been outstanding. What really clinched the deal for me was Lee's putting......insanely good, whether holing out from 6 feet or lagging it dead. And I think that is where some previous tournaments had slipped away. If I were you Lee, I'd wrap some pretty hardcore insultation around your putter to keep in some of the heat, and then I don't doubt that with more hard work a Major or two are just around the corner.

  • Comment number 10.

    It's fantastic news - there was only one person I wanted to win The Open this year as much as I'd have liked to have see Tom Watson win it and that would have been Lee Westwood.
    Good to see Lee winning - I hope he gets a major in 2010

  • Comment number 11.

    Its great to see Lee Westwood back on form again. Although he isnt having the best start to the 2010 season. Now we just need Tiger back and ill be happy.


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