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Westwood aiming for record seventh title

Having seen Darren Clarke fall three places short of deposing him at the top of the Order of Merit last week, Lee Westwood has a chance to extend his lead by winning this week's Italian Open and create a European Tour record in the process.

When Westwood took the World Matchplay title he joined an elite trio - of Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros and Colin Montgomerie - by winning six times in a season. Now the Nottinghamshire professional, 27, has a chance to better the record.

If he can he will build a lead of £135,000 in the rankings that could be crucial when the final two Tour events, the Volvo Masters and the American Express World Golf Championship, are played in Spain over the next couple of weeks.

"It would be nice to break the record," Westwood said. "Three excellent players hold it, so to beat them by one would be great. Then hopefully I can stretch the record to eight."

If it did become eight then it would endorse the sentiments of his arch-rival this week, Thomas Bjorn, the No 4 in the rankings. "Lee is far ahead. He's Europe's best golfer," Bjorn said.

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