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Golfers reveal what keeps them true

November 4, 2013

Competing in some of the most luxurious places in the world as a global golf star may be a far cry from growing up as a 13-year-old in Worksop who had never picked up a club - but Lee Westwood recently revealed to Ballantine's how it's his family that really helps him to stay true to himself.

Westwood, along with Padraig Harrington and Miguel Ángel Jiménez took some time during the BMW Masters at Lake Malaren, Shanghai to talk to Ballantine's about their unique stories which help them stay grounded despite the pressures of the game.

Westwood did not grow up as a child prodigy with a keen amateur golfer father like Tiger Woods, but took a different path to the top and one that is followed by many other professionals who pick up a golf club at a very young age.

Given his first pair of golf clubs as a Christmas present by his grandparents, they were put straight into the cupboard by Westwood. It was only after his 13 th birthday that his father decided to take up the game, convincing Westwood to join him and the two playing their first ever round together at Kilton Forest - a local municipal course in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, England.

From that day, Westwood was en-route to the World No 1 spot, which he held in October 2010 and again in April 2011. Despite his success and being one of the most recognisable faces in one of the biggest sports in the world, Westwood insisted his family would forever keep his feet on the ground.

"It comes back to how you were brought up," he said. "Trying to be yourself and remember your roots. If you look at other golfers on the tour, for the most part they have the same character on the course as off it.

"For me it has been a combination of factors that have shaped me but, above everything, my upbringing and my parents have been key in me staying true to myself.

"This time around, I have had five weeks off before this tournament, when I relaxed and spent time as dad and husband. I was able to spend time at home and to switch off and relax completely."

Jiménez and Harrington both came from similarly modest backgrounds, both from big families - Jiménez one of seven brothers, Harrington the youngest of five - in Malaga and Dublin respectively, where they both still live when not on tour, but both came to discover golf in different ways.

Harrington's father was a policeman who was forced into building his own golf course in the 1970s for his police colleagues who were unable to join a club, allowing a young Harrington to join in. Jiménez did head to a local club, but as a caddy, more concerned with earning a day-to-day wage to support his family than any dreams of glory.

But glory was to come for both, eventually, as Harrington turned professional belatedly at 24 years old, after originally training to be an accountant, while - after a steady start to his career - Jiménez captured his first title - the Piaget Belgian Open - aged 28.

Three Majors have followed for Harrington while Jiménez has captured 25 titles and also carved out a place as one of the most popular golfers with players and fans for his personality on and off the course. Despite their fame and fortune, both have remained true to their roots.

"There is a lot of too-ing and fro-ing but, emotionally, there is no doubt it is my wife and mother I turn to," said Harrington.

"It used to be my father, but he has now passed away. So now, it is very much my wife and mother who I turn to for a sympathetic ear and, at times, a kick up the backside when I need it. I would emotionally explain myself to them.

"You spend more time with your caddy than anyone else in your life, so it is important to have someone you trust and can talk to. My caddy is a close friend of mine; we are married to sisters and have travelled the world together for nine years."

Jiménez added: "The real me is what you see on the golf course - that's what I love to do! I love the game and I love competing.

"I have a golf school, and the main thing I tell the kids is that the first thing you need to do is to like the sport. I want people to see me as a person who loved golf, gave delight to golf, always practiced, never tired of golf.

"My values are very clear - you need to be honest with yourself and my family is a key part of that; my mother, father and my brothers. It's what I learned from them when I was very small and what I have learnt since I was a young boy at school, seeing my father and brothers working hard until late. It's something I've grown with."

Ballantine's asked the world's top golfers what inspires them to 'Stay True' on the golf course at the BMW Masters, Shanghai. To find out more about the new global marketing campaign for Ballantine's, Stay True, Leave An Impression, please go to www.ballantines.com






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