Lee Westwood made an emotional return to the winners’ enclosure when he roared home in 30 strokes to win the BMW International Open at Golfclub München Nord-Eichenried and end almost three years in the golfing wilderness.
In 2000 Westwood won six times in Europe, seven times around the world, and captured the Volvo Order of Merit title, ending Colin Montgomerie’s reign as European Number One. But with the world seemingly at his feet he lost his form and fell from the fourth ranked player in the world to 215th.
Today he put all that behind him, reaping the rewards of months of hard work with coach David Leadbetter, with a stunning three stroke victory in Munich. A final round of 66, six under par, gave Westwood a 19 under par total of 269 and left him three clear of home favourite Alex Cejka with Paul Casey, Andrew Coltart, Gary Evans, Peter Hedblom and Raphael Jacquelin a further shot back.
“I’m fairly emotional,” said a tearful Westwood moments after completing his round. “It’s been more than two years since I won. This is a big moment.”
Reflecting on his struggle to regain his form, he added: “There were times when I thought about putting the clubs away and not ever getting them out again and calling it a day but that would have been the easy thing to do. I battled it out and hopefully this is one of many rewards.
“I just enjoy winning and being in the lead with my name on the leaderboard and in front of people. I have worked for three years to get back to here and there was no reason not to enjoy it while I was there today.”
After seven holes Westwood looked to be almost out of the race for the title, a costly three putt dropping him back to 12 under par and four strokes adrift of pacesetter Robert Karlsson of Sweden. But after composing himself on the eighth and steadying the ship with an ideal eight iron off the tee, Westwood once again found that top gear.
A birdie on the ninth got his round off the ground but it was over the back nine that he really made his charge. Three successive birdies from the 11th, including a stunning approach to the 13th put him tied for the lead with Cejka and Karlsson but he pulled away with three birdies to complete a back nine of 30 and a round of 66. Perhaps the decisive shot was the chip in on the 17th which took him beyond the reach of the chasing pack.
Cejka mounted a strong challenge to become the first home winner of the title in the 15 year history of the BMW International Open, a final round of 67, five under par taking him to 16 under 272.
Karlsson held a two shot lead at the start of the day but never looked comfortable and lost the lead for the first time when he missed the green on the right of the tenth, chipped to eight feet and then three putted to fall back to 14 under par and fall two shots behind Cejka and Westwood and his challenge came to an end when he found water on the 16th.
Coltart, who made the cut right on the mark with the help of a hole-in-one on the second hole of the second round, tore through the field with a seven under par 65 on Saturday and continued in much the same vein on Sunday, firing a four under par 68 to lie on 15 under par.
Hedblom, runner-up twice already this year, enjoyed another good week with a joint third place finish after a closing 67, Casey closed with a 69 and Evans and Jacquelin shot matching 71s.