Lee Westwood was in high spirits on the eve of the Maybank Malaysian Open as he reflected on his seventh place finish at last week’s Masters Tournament.
The performance at Augusta National was his best of the season, and despite a long journey and a 12 hour change in time zone, he is confident he can continue that fine form at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
“My game’s coming along nicely,” said the 40 year old. “I started working with my new coach, Mike Walker, about six weeks ago.
“I’m starting to hit the ball a lot better. I’ve got a lot more control, I’m driving it a lot straighter and distance control is coming back. I’m hitting my iron shots a lot closer, and my confidence is building all the time.”
Westwood is a former Malaysian Open champion, having won the title in 1997, two years before the event became co-sanctioned with The European and Asian Tours.
“It’s been seven years since I last played in Malaysia and it’s certainly nice to be back,” said the Englishman, who has won 12 of his 40 professional titles in Asia. “I’d forgotten what a fun city Kuala Lumpur is and how nice the people are here.
“Strangely, I remember more about 1998 than when I won in 1997. I came back as defending champion and lost in a play-off. I hit it in a tree with a driver off the deck.
“But the win was only my third as a professional, so it was important. I was picking up the winning habit quickly and never really got out of it. It was a good platform for me.
“I’ve had a lot of success in Asia but I don’t really know why. Perhaps it’s the grass, or the heat, but I do tend to play well out here and I enjoy it.”
Of the course at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club, Westwood added: “It’s the first time I’ve seen it and I’m very impressed. Someone I was talking to said it’s in the best condition it’s ever been in, so it should be a good week.
“You get a fair bit of rain in this region, so it’s probably playing as long as it’s possible to play. There’s not a long of run on the ball. But I’m surprised how firm the greens are. It’s a good design. There’s not a lot of room so you have to be quite strategic with your shots.”