Europe’s winning Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie has warned his star player Lee Westwood to expect a backlash from Tiger Woods when he takes away his position as the world’s number one golfer.
The Englishman, who was the bedrock of Europe’s victory at Celtic Manor last week, is projected to take over the top spot in the Official World Rankings when the world’s leading players arrive in Shanghai for the WGC-HSBC Champions in the first week of November.
With Lee Westwood resting his injured calf and Tiger Woods not scheduled to play before China either, the 37-year-old from Worksop will overtake the American superstar by virtue of losing fewer points from the back end of the two-year period that the standings are calculated from.
However Montgomerie says that Westwood has got to expect an immediate response when Woods gets to Shanghai.
“He won’t like being number two at anything and he’ll come out fighting, which is great for the tournament, fantastic for the event,” said the 47-year-old Scotsman, talking at a HSBC Charity Golf Day in Hong Kong to raise money for the children’s charity UNICEF.
“Knowing Tiger as I do he’ll probably go out and win the HSBC World Golf event, you’ve got to think that" continued Montgomerie. "He came out and played superbly in the (Ryder Cup) singles match. He was two down after two (holes) against Francesco Molinari and then was nine-under for the next 11 holes. It was incredible golf! When he’s spurred on like that there’s nobody better. I think it’s great for the tournament, great for the tournament, having to have Woods win. I think he won’t be far away from doing so, but it’s a great, great, strong field again.”
Westwood will first have to complete his recovery from an unusual injury high in his calf which forced him to withdraw from the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational this summer and has made him schedule another break this month.
Westwood took the rest of August and September off trying to shake off the injury, which causes swelling in his ankle and lower calf as fluid from the injured muscle drains down his leg. Having returned for the Ryder Cup, he announced after last week’s Alfred Dunhill Link Championship in Scotland that he was going to rest for the remainder of October. His goal is to return in time for the WGC-HSBC Champions from November 4th-7th, a target made more likely by the fact that specialists have told him the injury is not one that can escalate.
“Hopefully, he’s back playing again. It’ll be fantastic to have the world’s top three players, and Martin Kaymer will be there – he’s fourth – it’s fantastic! Fantastic for golf!” said Monty, before pausing to consider how he’d respond should Westwood ask him for advice on how to handle being the world’s number one.
“The only thing that Lee Westwood can do is come over to Shanghai and win! Lee’s playing as well as anyone in the world of golf right now, and as number one you’ve got to prove it. I was number two to Greg Norman for a number of weeks back in 1996-97 and it’s a big deal when you’re up there. The expectation is that you are the best player in the world and you’re expected to go and prove it.
“Sometimes it’s not easy to do and Lee’s never been there before. I’m sure Lee’s nature and Lee’s personality will come through and he’ll be as anxious to win in Shanghai as Tiger… and as Phil, because if Phil wins in Shanghai he could probably go to number one. It’s very close and if Martin Kaymer has won a couple more events before then as well, he could be number one. It’s all go and it’s fantastic for the event,” said Monty, whose own personal goal, after dedicating the last two years to the Ryder Cup, is to get back into the winner’s circle in his own right and with it become the oldest ever winner on the European PGA Tour.
Thanks to Tim Maitland for sharing this great golf story with Golf for Beginners!
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