Westwood Rolls Back the Years to Storm to Victory in the Desert
Lee Westwood continues to defy the years, producing a magnificent final round of 67 to win the Abu Dhabi Championship by two shots and revive hopes of an unlikely Ryder Cup appearance for the 46-year-old.
The Englishman entered the final day in the desert with a one shot lead and, while he was briefly caught, he was never passed, carding a 67 to get to 19 under and finish two shots ahead of countrymen Matt Fitzpatrick and Tommy Fleetwood, and Victor Perez of France.
Fleetwood - a two time winner at this event - carded a 63 for his lowest round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club on his 29th birthday, while Perez matched him for the lowest round of his European Tour career. Fitzpatrick was bogey free in a 67 but the day belonged to Westwood, who took his tally of European Tour wins to 25 - almost 24 years after claiming his first - and became a winner in a fourth decade.
His most recent win at the 2018 Nedbank Challenge was his first European Tour victory in more than four years, and Westwood admitted back then that he had feared his days in the winner's circle may have been over.
"I can't believe I'm that old," he said, showing emotion again as it dawned on him that he had won in the 90s, 00s, 10s and 20s. "It's getting harder. It's just nice to come out and keep proving that you've still got it. I won my first tournament in 1996 in Sweden. I won that tournament in three different decades and now won here this week. The 20s could be the ones for me."
On the prospect of a potential 11th Ryder Cup appearance, he added: "I'm not sure I can take any more Ryder Cups, I've played in 10 and it was good watching the lads last time. But if there's a chance of that I might as well go for it."
Fitzpatrick took advantage of the par five second, holed a long putt on the third and hit a stunning tee shot to three feet at the fourth to share top spot. Westwood had also birdied the second before holing a long putt of his own on the third to retake the solo lead, and was not caught again.
After saving par from the sand on the fourth, he played a glorious bunker shot to set up a birdie on the fifth and lead by two.
Fitzpatrick got up and down from sand on the eighth for a birdie but he would then make nine pars in a row as Westwood also birdied the par five after laying up. The leader got a stroke of luck as he just avoided the water on the par three 12th but he took full advantage, holing from the fringe to lead by three.
Fleetwood was making a charge through the field and he birdied the first and second before playing an excellent tee shot into the fourth, holing a 15 footer at the seventh, making the most of the eighth and turning in 30 with a birdie from ten feet at the ninth.
Perez was still well back despite birdies on the first, fifth, eighth, tenth, 11th and 15th. But he played a stunning tee shot into the 17th for another birdie and followed that by putting his second to 12 feet for a sensational closing eagle.
Fleetwood then put his tee shots to ten feet on the 15th and 15 feet on the 16th before hitting a wonderful second from the rough on the 17th to join Perez in the clubhouse at 17 under. Westwood failed to get up and down on the 16th for his only bogey of the day and, while Fitzpatrick broke his par run on the last to sit just one back, two putts on the par five also handed Westwood a closing gain. South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen finished at 15 under, a shot clear of countryman Shaun Norris and Ross Fisher of England.
Andrew Landry very nearly threw it all away but, when it really mattered, he produced a finish to remember to win the American Express Championship at PGA West’s Stadium Course. Landry led by six shots but frittered it all away until he found himself in a tie with Abraham Ancer with three holes remaining. How did Landry respond? By finishing with back-to-back birdies to win his second PGA Tour title.
A final-round 67 gave him a final score of 262, two shots better than Ancer, who finished second after tying the course record with a final-round 63. Landry leapt from 178th to 17th in the FedEx Cup with the win.
Landry looked in control after making birdie on the first three holes of the back nine but he followed that with three consecutive bogey. Ancer pulled level with a 26-foot birdie putt on the 17th, his third birdie in four holes.
“It’s hard when you have a big lead because then you kind of start playing a little defensive,” Landry said, “and instead of playing defensive you need to be playing more aggressively and just keep hitting the shots that you need to hit.”
That’s what Landry did on the last two holes, knocking his approach shots close to guarantee that that his earlier miscues would quickly be forgotten.
Landry stuck his tee shot on the 17th to seven feet and made the putt to regain the lead. Water lines the left side of the finishing hole, but Landry intentionally hit a cut, starting his ball at the water before watching it curl back to the fairway. With 147 yards remaining, he was left with a wedge.
“I said just flush the wedge. It will get there,” said his caddie, Terry Walker. “And he hit a great wedge in there.” Landry duly holed a six-foot putt to claim the title he had looked like losing.
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