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Friday, 19 March 2010
Commercialbank Qatar Masters - Final Round  (Getty Images)
Commercialbank Qatar Masters - Final Round (Getty Images)

European Number One Lee Westwood is hoping his promising early season form will see him put his poor record in the WGC Accenutre Match Play Championship behind him this week.

Westwood has not made it beyond  the second round in nine previous attempts in the event but with no Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson in the field this could be his best chance of landing a maiden World Golf Championship title.

So poor is Westwood's record that when five-year-old daughter Poppy asked on Sunday when he would be back home from Tucson, Arizona, the World Number Four had to laugh.

"Historically Thursday, optimistically Monday," he said, adding that both Poppy and eight-year-old son Sam then looked at him "quizzically."

Never before, though, has Westwood been the second seed. It is only a couple of years ago that Westwood, who faces stablemate Chris Wood in the opening round tomorrow, considered skipping the event as well because the long journey had yielded so little reward.

"It's debatable, but I had no tournament on the week before and nothing the week after," he said.

"I think it's worth being here because obviously it's a prestigious title, there's plenty of world ranking points and we don't get to play much match play.

"Everybody's quite capable of shooting a 63 or 62 out there and that can happen against you, so you need a few breaks.

"You're going to play poorly one round this week and hopefully when you do the other guy plays a little bit worse.

"But on the reverse side of the coin you can shoot 65 and lose."

Westwood's main target for this season is, of course, a first Major Championship but, asked where he would rank a World Golf Championship victory, he said: "Just behind a major and The Race to Dubai.

"I like the money list (he won that for a second time in November) because it shows consistency over a whole year. But it's certainly only just a tier below that."

Although his seeding means that "statistically you should have a better first round", Westwood is not taking Bristol 22-year-old Wood lightly.

It is a clash between Europe's Number One and last year’s Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year and the last time he played match play, at September's Vivendi Trophy
with Seven Ballesteros in Paris, Wood top-scored with 4½ points out of five in Britain and Ireland's victory over Continental Europe.

There are two other all-European duels in the first round - Luke Donald against Graeme McDowell and Oliver Wilson against Miguel Angel Jiménez.

Meanwhile Germany's Martin Kaymer will be hoping his affinity for being in the desert continues in Arizona, where he has a home and spends the winter practising.

Kaymer enjoyed a fine gulf swing on The European Tour, winning the Abu Dhabi Championship for a second time, and he is in the mood for another good showing having moved to a career high Number Six in the world.

“I always play very well in the Middle East, in Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Dubai, and I think it comes from practicing here in Scottsdale. 

“It's very similar, very similar golf courses, similar weather.  So obviously I really fancy that surrounding or that atmosphere.  This  week is similar, as well and I think I can do well this week, too.”

Kaymer missed two months of the 2009 season due to a broken bone in his foot sustained in a go-karting accident but revealed he had returned to the track – albeit with a little caution.

“I was a little bit scared, yes, but, you know, I went down with some friends.  They said, hey, we're going to go go karting today, do you want to come?

“I said, yeah, I'll come with you, but I'm just watching.  After the first race, I thought I can give it a try, and see how it feels.  I was driving very careful the first two or three laps, and then the next laps I saw myself chasing it already. 

“I thought, okay, back up a little bit, be careful.  I think Mr Montgomerie  was giving me a little hint that I should be careful and shouldn't do that!”

 

 

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