I almost retired during slump, says Westwood

(China Daily/Reuters)
Updated: 2009-11-24 09:08

DUBAI: New European No 1 Lee Westwood said he almost quit golf during a demoralizing slump in form earlier in the decade.

I almost retired during slump, says Westwood
Lee Westwood [File photo]
I almost retired during slump, says Westwood

"I've been through a lot in the past eight, nine years," the Briton said after winning the season-ending Dubai World Championship by six strokes on Sunday to finish top of the European Tour money-list.

"I know what it's like to play poorly. I was ready to give up the game when I shot an 81 (in the first round of the 2001 Great North Open) at Slaley Hall (in England) and missed the cut."

Related readings:
I almost retired during slump, says Westwood Woods leaves Aussies eager for more
I almost retired during slump, says Westwood Woods takes charge at Australian Masters

After winning six times to finish top of the order of merit in 2000, Westwood plummeted to 246th in the world rankings two years later.

"I certainly turned up to tournaments with low expectations," said the 36-year-old.

"I'm incredibly proud to be European No 1 again. The whole weekend (in Dubai) was my best ever. I stuck it out on the last two days under what was going to be the most severest of pressure," he said after finishing with an eight-under 64.

Westwood, back in the world's top four for the first time in eight years, said maturity was responsible for his return to the top of the European money list.

"I'm a much more mature player now, I've got a more rounded game," he said. "There are less flaws, less weaknesses.

"In 2000 I was young, in my 20s. I'm 36 now which isn't old by any means but it is experienced.

"When you are young you have bravado, that's been replaced by experience."

Westwood said his presence helped deter his opponents in the European Tour's dramatic finale, especially his rival for the Race to Dubai money-list title, 20-year-old Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy.

"I think the way you portray yourself can be intimidating to other people," said the Ryder Cup stalwart.

"My caddie Billy Foster said I'd got to bully them on the golf course and get back the instinct I had in 2000. It was obviously a massive feather in my cap the first day when (playing partner) Rory said he was glad to get away from me.

"There's nothing better for me than for a competitor to say they are glad they are not playing with me.

"Rory's a massive talent. He'll be around for a long time."