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Lee Westwood takes well earned break

Lee Westwood shows off his European Grand Prix Trophy. Allsport.

Lee Westwood has decided that less is more as he prepares for an assault on the Open championship at St. Andrews in July.

Westwood won his second European Tour title of the season and 20th of his career at the weekend in the Compaq European Grand Prix at Slaley Hall.

But he will miss the more lucrative Irish Open at Ballybunion this week in order to take a rest and avoid becoming "a golfing zombie" by playing too many events.

"I'm having breaks when I need one now," said the 27-year-old. "I've learned you can't play all the time and you can't say yes to everything. That's going to be one of the key things.

"Hopefully I can keep on playing like this until the end of the year. From now on I'll play five or six at most in a row.

"I just enjoy playing. There's not really a week on tour that I don't like. But it's just a case of realizing that you can't play 100 percent all the time.

"That's why I'm not playing this week, if I did it would be a long run including the Open and by August you're a zombie."

Westwood would have been one of the favorites in Ireland this week after a remarkable run of form in the last six weeks.

After complaining that his game was in a woeful state in the Benson & Hedges International at the Belfry, Westwood has finished first, second, fourth, fifth and first in his last five events, including a victory over Tiger Woods in the Deutsche Bank event and his best finish in a major in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

And that has given him great confidence ahead of the Open at St. Andrews, especially the way he handled the varying conditions at Slaley Hall, in particular the brilliant 68 he shot Friday in gale force winds.

"The results speak for themselves. It's not a bad run," he said. "There's no reason why I can't keep going.

"As I'm improving I'm learning to play little knock-down shots, three-quarter shots that you need to play in the wind. I haven't got that much experience playing in the wind, as an amateur I played a little but not much.

"It's a game you have to learn and Friday at Slaley Hall showed that.

"Also, although I shot 76 on the windiest day at Pebble Beach, other people were shooting 83 or 85. I thought 76 was a pretty good score at the end of the day with the crusty greens and I thought I played pretty well."

Victory in Northumberland moved Westwood up to No. 2 in the Order of Merit behind close friend Darren Clarke but still more than a quarter of a million pounds adrift.

That is due to Clarke's victory over the world No. 1 Tiger Woods in the Andersen Consulting World Match Play earlier in the season, which was worth $1 million.

"When someone wins one of those events it throws the order of merit all to cock," he said. "They're very hard to win and that's why they're worth a lot. They give somebody a huge head start and you have to play awfully well to catch them.

"But we all have the opportunity to win them so no complaints. Hopefully I might win one of those."


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