Lee Westwood is hoping to produce a performance befitting of the finest player on the planet at this week’s Ballantine’s Championship after discovering he is the first World Number One to play in Korea.
Tiger Woods, who dominated the World Rankings for the past decade made it to Korea in 2004, but at that time he was playing second fiddle to Vijay Singh on the Official World Golf Ranking.
That means Westwood will create another piece of golfing history when he walks onto the first tee on Thursday, and the 38 year old is keen to show the people of Korea some of the brilliance that has taken him to the very top of the game.
Asked whether he was aware that the people of Korea will have high expectations of him this week, Westwood responded: “Well, I have great expectations as well. I am going to try to play well in this championship and hopefully on Sunday afternoon, have a chance to win it.
“I played well last week to win in Indonesia so my confidence is high. I'm looking forward to getting out there tomorrow morning and having a look at the golf course and see if it suits me. I didn't realize the World Number One had never competed in Korea before, so it's a bit of an honour to bring that title to Korea.”
While Westwood is clearly out to take the Ballantine’s title back home to England (along with the lion’s share of the €2.2 million prize fund on offer at the co-sanctioned event), he is fully aware of the challenges facing him from the strongest field ever assembled in the four-year history of the event.
Among his strongest challengers will be home hero YE Yang, who will lead the charge to be the first home winner of the Ballantine’s Championship.
He said: “I've played with quite a few young Korean players and I've played with YE and KJ quite a lot. It’s world renowned how good the lady golfers are at the moment and golf is overall a very strong sport in Korea.
“I think that having tournaments like the Ballantine’s Championship in Korea helps the popularity of golf, and it's always great if it people like Yang, who is playing this week, come back and play in their own country and show the people of Korea that the Korean golfers can compete against the best in the world.”