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Westwood Refreshed for New Season
Lee Westwood will be making his season debut in the Dubai Desert Classic. The European Tour event begins Thursday at Emirates Golf Club.
The 39-year-old Brit, a 22-time winner on the European Tour and currently seventh in the world golf rankings, has come close in the tournament before, finishing second last year and in 2010. Three years ago he lost to Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez on the third playoff hole.
Westwood made a major change in his personal life in December when he moved his wife Laurae and two young children to a new home at Old Palm Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and rejoined the PGA Tour. The former No. 1 also left his swing instructor Pete Cowen following a missed cut in the PGA Championship.
Instead of trying to get his off-season practice in at his 50-acre estate in Worksop, England - which is now for sale, Westwood has been working on his game at his new club in sunny Florida. "It's easy to throw on your shorts and go hit balls," Westwood said of his new digs.
As for taking on a new coach, Westwood said, "It's me. Hey, I have been taking lessons for 30 years."
It'll be interesting to see how all the changes work out for Westwood, an eight-time member of European Ryder Cup teams - six of which were winners, including this year at Medinah.
On Tuesday, Westwood met with the media and discussed how he prepared for the 2013 season and his expectations for this week and beyond. Here's what he said in Tuesday's Q&A.
Q. A lot of victories, I think you won in 2002, what was the tough guy really?
LEE WESTWOOD: Is that the year I played at Torrey Pines? The Buick? Yeah, I think that's the year I decided to play over there, and I think what was either up against was this or this was the week after. Yeah I think I played Torrey Pines. That could be the only reason that I could think of.
Q. Can you please tell why you think this year will be difference?
LEE WESTWOOD: Difference to?
Q. Two of the last three.
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, I hope it's not that different, I like the way I played the last three years -
Q. But you want to go for a win this year?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, I like that, I like the way you're thinking. (Laughter). I played a lot more this winter than I would normally play. There's no rust. Felt like a few years ago, I should have won when I was up against Miguel in a play-off and then last year, last round, last birdie chance, all felt like we had the last birdie chance. Yeah, feel like I've let a couple slip there.
Q. You have a birthday coming up, one of those ones that has a zero on the end of it, any plans or talking about it or is it just a number?
LEE WESTWOOD: I hope someone has made some plans. I would love to have some sort of celebration. Hopefully somebody will surprise me. But no, it's just a number and I'm feeling good so it doesn't bother me, turning 40. I think most people in this room are over 40.
Q. Speaking of 40, obviously the major question, is it more of a motivation this year?
LEE WESTWOOD: No, that would be putting a bit of pressure on myself. No, I try hard year every year, so just need to find a little spark (laughter).
Q. Obviously you made a lot of changes, coaching changes, what are your thoughts on that?
LEE WESTWOOD: I didn't really change coaches. I just did away with a few. A difference, isn't it, changing coaches, than just taking on board what people have told you and working with that? There's a big difference. I've not made any big changes as such.
Q. After the PGA when you missed the cut, did you a lot of things, a lot of few frustrations, how are you feeling coming into this year obviously massive changes?
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, everybody has to change yeah, I've made a few this year. I think the reason of moving to Florida was to move on my game a little bit more, to get more games of golf because I wouldn't play normally when I'm at home. Last week I had shorts on and was out playing some golf. I played with Luke Donald on Wednesday. There are always games about if you want a game. That should stand me in good stead for this year.
Q. Where did you play with Luke?
LEE WESTWOOD: No, we played Old Palm, and I played two of the golf courses down there.
Q. When did you move in to your new house?
LEE WESTWOOD: We're moving into that house on February 14th. We've been renting so far and have been since December.
Q. Do you feel like it this might be your best chance of taking home the trophy? Is there added motivation to actually giving the trophy cabinet given you have some close or is there a tournament -
LEE WESTWOOD: No, it's certainly one I would like to win. Like we said earlier I've been back here every year apart from one since 1994. So hopefully you know, this week I'll play as well as I've played the last few years and have that chance again and hopefully finish it off. I feel like we've got a chance come Sunday.
Q. Is there any part of your game sharper -
LEE WESTWOOD: Short game is sharper and definitely my putting. The greens out there are so quick, I'm actually coming here this week to slower greens.
Q. Is that because of the new clubs?
LEE WESTWOOD: Not completely. The greens are part of the reason for improvement, the right conditions to work on my game. Living in England, I've always felt like I finished off the year, went home, packed the clubs away and came back out trying to catch everyone else, rather than trying up to show and hit the ground running.
Q. Your thoughts on McGinley as Ryder Cup captain.
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, pleased for him. I think he'll make a fine captain. He has experience at captaincy in the Seve Trophy and he's not lost so hopefully he'll keep that lucky streak going.
Q. What made you move over to the States lock ,stock and barrel?
LEE WESTWOOD: Just seemed like the right time. I played on the PGA Tour a lot last season and really enjoyed it and fancied a new challenge with the family. The prospect of being somewhere warm was appealing and the kids were a good age to move. So the family are happy and I can work a lot on my game at the same time.
Q. This bottom exactly is not exactly one of the bomber's courses -
LEE WESTWOOD: You look at the players that won it, they're obviously not short - Quiros and Henrik Stenson have won around it, Rory has won around it, Tiger. It helps a lot if you can reach the par fives in two. This golf course is very sand-based so you don't get much run on the fairways, so you need a fair bit of distance.
Q. What is it that appeals to you the most?
LEE WESTWOOD: Like I said earlier, the fact that it just rewards good play, good, solid play. If you hit good, solid shots, you have a chance. It's pretty familiar here and it's obviously a lot easier to get it in the fairways. It's a good, solid test. Probably why you've had good winners around it.
Q. The caddie situation - has that been sorted out?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, Mike is my caddie still. It was unfortunate with Billy's injury but couldn't be helped.
Q. I don't know if you followed last week, but Sergio Garcia is back in form. What are your thoughts on him coming back the way he has?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, he played well last week, he was unlucky not to win but it was a hell of a finish from Chris Wood. He's had a few other good results, as well, winning on Tour. He's obviously playing well.
MODERATOR: Lee, thanks for coming in.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.
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