Monday, September 13, 2010

Westwood in Portugese Defence

World Number Three Lee Westwood is relishing the opportunity to defend his Portugal Masters title, 12 months after the victory which ignited his ascent to the summit of European golf. The Englishman finished two strokes clear of Italian Francesco Molinari and four ahead of Padraig Harrington last year to capture his first European Tour victory in more than two years, during which time he had lost three play-offs and recorded an astonishing 26 top ten finishes. Westwood’s 19th visit to the winner’s enclosure as a European Tour champion lit the blue touch paper, and he promptly made it 20 when he captured the season ending Dubai World Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates. Westwood’s Portugal Masters victory and €500,000 first prize contributed towards the 37 year old winning the inaugural Race to Dubai ahead of Rory McIlroy and subsequently being named The 2009 European Tour Golfer of the Year. His return to Oceânico Victoria Golf Course,Vilamoura, as champion from October 14-17 will be his first appearance in stroke-play competition following his seventh Ryder Cup appearance for Europe at The Celtic Manor Resort in Wales. “I’m really looking forward to returning to Oceânico Victoria Golf Course and defending my title,” said Westwood. “It was a great venue to finally capture another victory after two years without one. I’d had a number of near misses in that time so it was special to finally get my hands on a trophy and to then go on to win the inaugural Race to Dubai on the back of that made it a year to remember.” Westwood fired successive weekend rounds of 66 at the Oceânico Victoria Golf Course to capture the title last year. He had entered the final round three shots adrift of former US Open Champion Retief Goosen but birdied each of the first four holes and produced a magical escape through the trees on the par five 17th hole to then tap in for birdie and then par the last for victory. Westwood, who has finished runner up in both the Masters Tournament and Open Championship this season and won for the first time in 12years on the US PGA Tour, has missed all of August and September with a calf injury but retains aspirations of a successful double defence – of his Portugal Masters title and Race to Dubai crown. “It would mean a great deal to me to successfully defend my Portugal Masters title,” he said. “Last year I held off some great players in Francesco Molinari, Padraig Harrington and Retief and it will be just as tough this year with seven of my Ryder Cup Teammates in the field”


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