In-form Lee Westwood is aiming to preserve his lead in The Race To Dubai rankings at this week’s UBS Hong Kong Open at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling.
The World Number Four enters the event in good shape, despite a disappointing final round at a thrilling WGC-HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai last week.
He still managed to claim a ninth top-10 finish in his last 10 stroke play events, however, and remains just ahead of a charging Rory McIlroy in The Race To Dubai standings with two events remaining.
He also beat eventual champion Ross Fisher at the Volvo World Match Play Championship in Spain to take his earnings over his last seven outings to over one million euros.
And with McIlroy, who posted a fourth top-10 finish in his last five stroke play events last week, also teeing up in Hong Kong, the season is set for a thrilling climax culminating in next week’s prestigious, season-ending Dubai World Championship presented by: DP World.
“The end of the season is what everyone wants, I think the people in Dubai will be delighted it’s fairly open and I am in the best position out of anybody and I am pleased to be in that position,” said Westwood ahead of his first appearance at Hong Kong Golf Club.
“This week is going to have an effect. We are playing for big prize money next week, but it would certainly help winning this week. I am also thinking about winning the Hong Kong Open because it is a very old and prestigious title.
“It would be nice to have a lead going into the last event because it means that if I win the event (in Dubai) I will win the money list, my fate is in my hands so I would like to come out of this week still in front.”
The last time Westwood occupied fourth place in the world rankings was back in 2000 - a year in which he won seven events.
Prior to finishing second at July’s Open de France ALSTOM, the four-time Ryder Cup-winner had posted just two top 10s in the first half of the year, but the runner-up finish in Paris kick-started a stunning run which included best ever finishes at The Open Championship and US PGA Championship and a return to the winners’ circle last month at the Portugal Masters.
“Maybe it’s an omen. Last time I was fourth I won the money list, so this time it might be the same thing,” he added.
“I played pretty well in 2000 and in 1998/1999 when I was winning a lot of events, but I feel better now. I feel my game has become more rounded and there are less weaknesses so now it is just a case of finishing it off more often like I did in the late 90s and 2000.
“My previous highest place was fourth back in 2000 and I was there for two or three weeks so to go through a slump and get back to fourth obviously means a lot, it probably means more than anything I have done this year so far.
“That is purely because people often go through a slump and they generally don’t come back, they slip away and you don’t see them. So I think it says a lot about my mentality and guts because it is a long way back from when you have been very successful.”