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Westwood steps up challenge to be European No.1

Briton Lee Westwood is ready to step up his bid to be European number one for the first time by landing back-to-back titles with victory in the German Masters starting on Thursday.

Westwood, whose Belgian Open win last weekend was his fifth on the European Tour this season, can strengthen his lead at the top of the rankings while his nearest rival Darren Clarke misses the event after the birth of his second child.

To underline his ambition to end the season as Europe's top player, Westwood has said he may add next month's Italian Open to his schedule before the two final big-money tournaments, the Volvo Masters and World Golf Championship.

The Englishman, who is world number four, underlined his desire to be the world's best player as he prepared for the German tournament on Wednesday, but said he would settle for best in Europe for the time being.

"I've been at number four before but it's nice to be number one in Europe," Westwood said. "Number four is not number one -- that's a long way off -- but it's a step in the right direction.

"It might take time to get to number one but second and third is attainable; there's not much between the rest of us. You've got to make that progression.

Lee Westwood needs one more title to equal the European Tour record.Allsport.

"The most important thing at this stage is to keep winning titles. World ranking points, orders of merit, records, come along as by-products."

If Westwood can win here, one of the by-products will be to join an elite group of players who have won six times in one year on the European Tour -- Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros and Colin Montgomerie.

Westwood said that he was 'in control' of his game enough now after a lull, to take the German title.

He may need to be at his best because Spain's Sergio Garcia believes he is back to the form which earned him this title last year, his second in Europe.

"For my last ten rounds, nine of them have been in the 60s, so I'm playing well," he said.

Thomas Bjorn and Montgomerie, fourth and fifth on the Tour money-winning list, are Westwood's nearest rankings rivals in Germany, where U.S. Masters champion Vijay Singh is also in the field.

Bjorn pronounced himself fit after limping out of last week's Belgian Open.


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