Westwood Set for PGA Tour Debut


Lee Westwood is making his start as a regular on the PGA Tour in this week's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. The $6.5 million event begins Thursday on California's scenic Monterey Peninsula.

Westwood, who began his season in last week's Dubai Desert Classic, where he finished tied for fifth seven strokes behind winner Stephen Gallacher, will be paired at Pebble Beach with his father, John, as his amateur partner.

Westwood brought both parents - him mother's name is Tricia - to this beautiful part of the world as a present for their 43rd wedding anniversary.

The 39-year-old, currently ranked eighth in the world, is looking forward to beginning his American campaign. For the first time in his career he plans to play the bulk of his tournaments in the States and has taken up residence in Florida with his wife and two children.

On Wednesday, Westwood met with reporters and discussed his American season debut and what he expects this year. Here's what he had to say.

MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Lee Westwood. Lee you're going to start your season on the PGA Tour at the AT&T Pebble Beach this week. Talk about your thoughts coming into the week, and then we'll have some questions.

LEE WESTWOOD: I think it's a nice week to start. It's a very big tournament, but it's still quite a relaxed week being a Pro Am format and playing with my dad. Started off the year nicely last week in Dubai. Played quite solidly. Finished fifth. Hit it in the water on the last going for an eagle. So looking forward to this week and hoping to play the same.

MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. How many of these have you played in with your dad?

LEE WESTWOOD: I played the Dimension Data in South African in 2000 with him. That's the only other one we've played like this. We won it, so we're on a streak.

Q. (No microphone.)

LEE WESTWOOD: Well, I have this week.

Q. It's been a while since you played here. What brought you back? A chance to play with your dad?

LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, a chance to play with my dad and a chance to play this tournament. Been over on the west coast for a couple tournaments. I'm playing L.A. next week as well, which I've not played for a few years. You know, wanting to start earlier on the PGA Tour than I have done in previous years, so this seemed like an obvious place to start really. I played Pebble quite a lot. Had a decent U.S. Open result, so...

Q. Talk about your partner this week and the influence he's had on you.

LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, he's had a massive influence on me. He's the reason really I've got so good at the game. You know, he and my mum invested a lot time in me when I was growing up. He didn't play golf before we started together, so it was first the time we both set foot on the golf course was together. Yeah, pretty much. Yeah, I was nearly 13 years old. So we both started playing together. I turned pro at 19 and came on tour and he was still at 12 handicap, so I can't understand the reasons for that. (Laughter.)

He went to every lesson that I have had, drove me there and sat there and listened to it. I just got a bit better than him. Must be down to talent or something like that.

Q. You must have your mother's...

LEE WESTWOOD: I must have my mum's talent for golf, yeah.

Q. (No microphone.)

LEE WESTWOOD: You know, I don't know, because I played a lot other sports as a boy. You know, pretty good runner and good at football soccer you call it here. Played a lot of rugby and cricket. And then just one day decided to go and have a game of golf. He was a king fisherman and he took me along. I used to ruin his fishing by throwing stones in. It all started from there. Six years later I was turning pro and playing on the European Tour.

Q. Was it his idea or your idea?

LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, definitely his idea. No, it wasn't knew idea.

Q. (No microphone.)

LEE WESTWOOD: It just me as the kind of game where you can always improve. Twenty six years on I'm still trying to improve, so I was right. You hit a good shot and you remember that feeling. You feel like you can go back and hit one ever better. You hit a bad shot and it frustrated you want to keep practicing more. You always feel like you can improve.

Q. In your opinion, why are the best in the world and just weekend hackers just drawn here to this layout year after year?

LEE WESTWOOD: Because I think no matter what level you're at, good day, bad day, it's still a stunning place. If you're having a bad day and you can't concentrate on your golf, you can always have a look round and find something beautiful to look at. It's just a magical place to play goal. I've always said it's my favorite place. People always ask me where I would like to play my last round of golf. If it wasn't a golf course with by a hospital, it would be Pebble Beach.

Q. Tell me about some of the success you've had here in California.

LEE WESTWOOD: I've played quite well in California. Seem to pla well on these style of greens, you have this kind of grass. Played well at Torrey Pines, U.S. Open. I think pretty much all my best U.S. Open - well, other than in Washington, played well Pebble Beach Open in 2000, Olympic, a couple of times top 10. So I seem to play well on this kind of grass. I didn't grow up really playing much on this. It's a similar kind of grass, but I don't know. Just seems to suit me over here. I guess I like the Californian air.

Q. How much more advanced and ready to compete are young players and rookies when you see Russell Henley winning Honolulu, but then Tiger and Phil have won the last couple weeks. Seems like the young guys are more ready to win, but your generation is still...

LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, I don't really know much about Russell Henley, but the amateurs that turn pro and come out on the European Tour, they don't really strike me as amateurs anymore. When turned pro, I think my first tournament abroad was the Tour school; second one was the Madeira Island Open. Now the amateurs are semi professional and they're taken around in teams and the sportsmanship and funding for them is much better and they become - you know, they go and play tournaments in Australia and all over the world. So they have a lot more experience at traveling and playing different styles of golf courses than amateurs in my day did. I still remember some that I played against would have a full time job and then try and play amateur golf after that. You don't see that anymore. It's moved on. I think that's why they come just come out and they're are a lot more ready to play competitively on tour. Instruction has improved is a well.

Q. Just wanted to talk about your preparation for the season. Anything new in your preparation or in terms of your mindset heading into a new season? Something you say, I want to get to this point quicker?

LEE WESTWOOD: There is a lot new living in a new country. Moved to Florida just before Christmas, so I spent eight weeks there over winter and over Christmas, so I've certainly done a lot more practice and played a lot more golf and rounds of golf in the winter than normally would have done. So I've come out hitting the ground running this year. I think that's probably why I played solid last week. Didn't need any sort of warming up. Got new clubs in the bag. Got a new G25, PING G25 driver, 3 wood, and I don't want you call it. A utility club is it? A rescue type thing. And a new putter. Just a new mindset with living in a new country and playing more full time over here.

Q. And the weather obviously in Florida year round...

LEE WESTWOOD: It's slightly better than the foot of snow we got in England. It's better for practice. Yeah, there is no doubt about that.

Q. Can you give us a bit of a timeline of when you moved over to West Palm the when the kids got in school, that kind of thing?

LEE WESTWOOD: They moved over on the eighth of December; I moved over on the 10th having played in Thailand. Then we were there up until Christmas and the New Year, and then they started school on about the 7th or 8th of January, I think.

Q. Any new or fun experiences in the two months you've been in this glorious country?

LEE WESTWOOD: Not so much fun. I keep bumping into (indiscernible) on the range at Old Palm, which makes me feel like moving back to England. But, no, everybody over there has been very welcoming and made us feel at home. The practice facility there at Old Palm has been great. I've enjoyed it. It's going to be good for my game. Certainly see the change already in my short game, putting.

Q. What about just outside the golf course? Anything you like or dislike?

LEE WESTWOOD: I like being by the ocean there. You know, I find it very relaxing. Just the weather and getting up in the morning and not having to look out the window and just throw on a pair of shorts and a T shirt and go is almost too easy. Feels weird not having to get wrapped up and push the ice off the green.

Q. How about the kids? When you told them about the move, what was their reaction?

LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, they were excited. You know everybody has been have keen on the move. I sort of suggested it and then just let them take it. Yeah, I think I they quite like going to school in shorts and a t shirt and trainers. I've seen a change in them. Other than them being a little more tanned, they very relaxed. (Indiscernible.)

Q. Do you go back in the summer or stay here?

LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, I'll go over and play PGA Championship in May and then go back for the French Open and the Open Championship. Other than that, I'll be based pretty much...

Q. You heard about summers in West Palm?

LEE WESTWOOD: I've experienced them pretty much already. I don't mind being warm like that.

Q. You said this is your fifth time go round as a U.S. member. Being based here in Florida, how much do you think that will change?

LEE WESTWOOD: Well, it'll make it a lot easier, won't it? I'll see a lot more of my family. Jet lag was becoming an issue. I know I played in Dubai last week, but going to be less jet lag this year. It starts to take its toll on your body. You start to feel it more when you get a little bit older. So moving over is part of reason for doing that is to make life easier.

Q. Can you talk about the dynamic of playing with your dad? Are you pretty relaxed? Do you get frustrated with each other?

LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, all of those, I think. I don't get frustrated, and he probably won't get frustrated with me. I just want to see him enjoy himself and make some nice shot and make a par birdie and maybe the odd birdie and eagle. Just come in and help me out every now and again. I'll try and carry him along as much as I go. Hopefully we'll make the cut and He'll get the umbrella.

Q. (No microphone.)

LEE WESTWOOD: You will see.

Q. Has he played here?

LEE WESTWOOD: No, it's his first time. He's enjoying it. So we'll see. Mum is as well in California, as well. So it's both their first time over and they're having a great time. It's their 43 wedding anniversary and my mum's birthday next week, so it's sort of a bit of a present.

Q. What are their names?

LEE WESTWOOD: John and Tricia.

Q. Why didn't you move here?

LEE WESTWOOD: Why didn't I move to California? Let's not go there.

MODERATOR: Well, Lee, good luck this week.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.


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