Wednesday, 19 January 2011
Lee Westwood  (Getty Images)
Lee Westwood (Getty Images)

Quality not quantity has worked wonders for Lee Westwood lately - and the World Number One will be happy to keep it that way as he starts his 2011 campaign.

Westwood, part of a star-studded field at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship also featuring all four of last season's Major winners, is now in his 12th week as the greatest golfer on the planet.

Yet in that time he has played only three tournaments.

Westwood was runner-up to Ryder Cup team-mate Francesco Molinari in Shanghai, third at the Dubai World Championship and then a runaway eight stroke winner of the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa.

The 37 year old from Worksop has had six weeks off since then, but flew to the Middle East a week ago to "shake the rust off" and it will be a shock if there is a repeat of last year's missed cut on the course, his only one in the past 20 months.

"I'm just trying to continue where I left off last season," he said.

That would certainly do nicely - his last competitive shot was a chip-in birdie at Sun City.

"I know it's a new year, but you don't really think about that as a golfer - they all blend into each other after a while. This is my 18th year on Tour.

"There is a lot of focus on you when you are World Number One - it's quite intense and there's a lot to do - and it was nice to get away, lock the clubs up for four or five weeks, not think about holing three or four footers for par and get mentally fresh.

"I've got that feeling where it may be a good week, but I'm not putting any pressure on myself - I'm going out there with no expectations.

"I've got to try to get my preparation right for Augusta in April."

The added ingredient in Abu Dhabi from previous seasons is that the one player to beat Westwood in The Masters last spring - Phil Mickelson - is competing.

The American, now joint fourth in the Official World Golf Ranking with Graeme McDowell after failing in more than a dozen attempts to take the Number One spot off Tiger Woods last year, is back in action after an even longer break.

Mickelson's last event was in Singapore in mid-November, but he has not been idle.

"It was my turn to plan our anniversary trip last year and, knowing it's been a dream of Amy's to see the pyramids, we went to Egypt," he said.

"We spent time in Cairo and Luxor, went to the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens, saw the tombs of the nobles, the Cairo Museum and the Karnak Temple.

"We were home for a while and then took the whole family skiing in Montana."

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T5MAYBIN, GarethNIR18-12
T5LYNN, DavidENG18-12
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