Analysis

Play of the week – Westwood shows class right to the end

Following Lee Westwood’s 25th European Tour victory PGA Professional Ian St John analyses the key moment from his Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA triumph.

Lee Westwood after re-entering the winner's circle

By Ian St. John, PGA Professional

Defining ‘play of the week’, never mind awarding it, is a difficult task. Some weeks it’s clear, obvious even, whereas on other occasions it’s simply a matter of opinion.

But this week it’s about Mr Westwood, who has now won at least once in each of the last four decades.

His first victory came 24 years ago at the Volvo Scandinavian Masters in 1996, where he triumphed in a play-off over Paul Broadhurst and Russell Clayton. The longevity of his career deserves applause and he’s still “only” 46-years-old. 

With this win, he now jumps to 29th in the world and more importantly will play in all four major championships this year. In an emotional interview afterwards, he spoke of how “it’s getting harder to win” but his desire and dedication is still the same as it was when he started. 

For the first time all the nominees for ‘play of the week’ are deservedly from one player alone.

Here are the week’s top three standout moments, and they all come from the champion.

Lee Westwood

1. Westwood’s approach from a fairway bunker to the 500-yard par four 14th hole:

• Lee is leading by two. The flag is tight left in the front portion of the green. The wind is coming out of the right-hand side. It’s 181 yards to the middle of the green. Lee hits seven iron. He makes par, with a potential bogey avoided.

2. Westwood’s approach shot to the 482-yard par four 17th hole:

• Lee is now leading by one. He has 150 yards to the pin. Adrenaline has to be a factor, anything long is a potential bogey. He hits a wedge into the middle of the green. ‘That’s a magnificent response to the dropped shot at 16,” says Sky Sports commentator Ewan Murray.

3. Westwood’s approach to the 562-yard par five 18th hole:

• Lee is one ahead with one to play. Tommy Fleetwood, Matt Fitzpatrick and Victor Perez are all in the clubhouse, watching on. Lee has 269 yards to the pin. The wind is out to the right and he hits a hybrid to the heart of the green.

For me, it must be the approach shot to the 18th green, here’s why: 

• Requiring a par to win, the demand of the approach shot is clear. This is one where Lee has to draw on 27 successful years as a professional, where he’s been in this position many times before. He shows that he’s in complete control over both his physical and emotional states. The plan is executed perfectly, with Lee hitting a little cut to the left side of the hole taking all the trouble on the right-hand side out of play.

Well done Lee and here’s to more success for Mr. Westwood in 2020.

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