Lee Westwood ended a near two-year absence from the winner’s circle in style as he recorded his 40th worldwide career victory by seven shots at the Maybank Malaysian Open.
The Englishman started the day one ahead of compatriot Andy Sullivan and moved into a commanding four shot lead before the threat of lightning forced play to be suspended for over four hours at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club.
Any doubts about the former World Number One seeing out the job over the last seven holes when play restarted were quickly extinguished, as Westwood moved six clear with a birdie at the 13th before parring his way to the last, where he sunk a 15 footer for a fourth gain of the day.
Westwood, who won this tournament in 1997 before it became co-sanctioned by The European Tour and Asian Tour, finished seventh at the Masters Tournament and feels his improved form has been helped by changes on and off the course.
“I started working with a new coach a few weeks ago, Mike Walker, and Billy Foster came back on the bag at the end of last year, so I was going back to what I had done before because it had worked,” said Westwood, for whom this was a 13th win on Asian soil.
“It’s started to work already – the last couple of weeks I’ve played well in Houston and at the Masters last week and this week I’ve obviously played very well.
“It’s a golf course that suits my game; it’s very tight in certain areas. I played well, I putted well, and the short game is good.
Asked whether he was approaching the form that took him to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking, Westwood added: “It’s got the potential, although now I feel like I’ve got a short game and starting to roll a few putts in. It makes a helluva difference if you can get up-and-down if you miss a few greens and keeps the momentum going.”
The 40 year old had seen his four shot halfway margin whittled down to a single stroke by former Walker Cup star Sullivan on Saturday, but needed only three holes to restore his advantage.
The 27 year old Sullivan found water at the second and hit a wayward fourth from the drop zone, eventually carding a triple bogey seven.
Although Sullivan responded with a hat-trick of birdies, he dropped another shot at the seventh after finding trees down the left.
Westwood birdied the long tenth to reach 16 under for the week before the hooter sounded, with Sullivan and Danny Willett his nearest challengers at that stage.
When play restarted Willett bogeyed the 13th and Sullivan dropped a shot after finding water at the 12th, leaving Westwood to race six shot clear with a ten foot birdie at the 13th.
A bogey-free round of 68 saw Westwood finish on 18 under – the seven shot gap back to Nicolas Colsaerts, Louis Oosthuizen and Bernd Wiesberger the largest of his 23 European Tour titles.
Willett double bogeyed the last to finish tied for fifth with Rikard Karlberg on ten under, while Sullivan slid into a share of 13th after a closing 78.