Lee Westwood captured his third European Tour from his last three starts by winning a thrilling last-day contest with Thomas Bjorn in the Canon European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre.
The 26 year old Englishman became only the third golfer to achieve the hat-trick – following in the illustrious footsteps of Seve Ballesteros and Nick Faldo – with a 14 under par total of 270.
After an epic final round which devloped into a match play situation between Westwood and the back-to-form Dane, Westwood added the Canon European Masters title to the TNT Dutch Open and the Smurfit European Open titles which he won before a three week spell in America.
Now the man with nine European Tour titles to his name seeks to emulate Ballesteros and Faldo by matching their feats of claiming four titles from four successive starts back in the eighties.
That achievement was done twice by Ballesteros and once by Faldo and Westwood said: “I would be following two reasonably good names in Seve and Nick – 11 major championships between and arguably the two best players to come out of Europe.”
Westwood described the glorious sunny afternoon high in the Alps as “one of the best days I’ve ever had on the golf course.”
He added: “I think after six holes we determined it was going to be a match play situation and it was just great fun. I would hit a good shot and he would hit a good shot. I would hole a long putt and I would hole one. It’s not often you get two players enjoying themselves so much.”
In fact Bjorn, who fired a 66, followed Westwood in at three holes – the sixth, 15th and 16th to underline the fact that, after a lean spell, he is right back to his best and threatening the best in Europe again.
In particular, he showed his courage at the 15th, getting up and down from the bunker, holing from 15 feet, to stay in touch with Westwood, who eagled that hole. It kept him one behind the leader, having been one ahead after 12.
Then at the 16th, Westwood knocked his tee shot to four feet and Bjorn struck a majestic three iron to just two feet to match his birdie two.
However the damage was done at the 17th, where Bjorn’s approach from a bunker flew the green and he failed to get up and down. The Dane had a 12 footer to birdie the last, making Westwood’s six footer for par considerably less pressurised.
As Westwood pointed out: “Thomas should be proud of himself. He is a tough competitor. Even thought the margin was two shots the result was still in doubt until the final green.”
Bjorn was able to joke about his second place afterwards, saying: “I only hope that next time Lee plays three weeks in a row in America he takes the next week off!”
He added: “I am going in the right direction and feel proud of what I’ve done. It was really enjoyable going head to head with Lee.”
Alex Cejka of Germany fired a final 66 to secure third place on 276, four behind Westwood, with a resurgent Sam Tgorrance (67) and Marc Farry of France (70) sharing fourth plavce on 278.