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Lee Westwood looking to defend title in Andalucia

World number 20 Lee Westwood can continue his career revival this week if he retains his Andalucia Open title.

The 2000 European number one turned his fortunes last year when he won at the Aloha Golf Club and back-to-back titles on Spain’s Costa del Sol can only enhance his stature.

The 34-year-old Briton lies third on Europe’s order of merit but he would move within 62,428 euros ($97,240) of leader Henrik Stenson if he records his 19th European Tour success.

While there is a reasonably strong field at Aloha, Westwood is clear favourite to better his two runner-up spots so far this season that have seen him climb the world rankings further and sit top of Europe’s Ryder Cup table.

Westwood’s Andalucia win took him from outside the world’s top 50 into an ascent on which he shows no sign of faltering.

“It was a big win for me in terms of gathering some momentum and getting me back up to where I am now,” Westwood said in a European Tour news bulletin.

When Westwood returned to the winner’s enclosure last season, it was his first victory for three years and 227 days, but he said he had not been counting.

“I never really thought about going so long without a win. Winning is fickle. Sometimes you don’t get across the line first.”

Westwood is likely to have to combat jet-lag when defending his title, having featured in the WGC-CA Championship in Miami on Monday, where he finished tied 34th.

The young German Martin Kaymer, lying fifth on the money-list, is one of Westwood’s likely opponents in the event co-hosted by Spanish tour players Miguel Angel Jimenez and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano that starts on Thursday.

Northern Ireland’s twin force of the experienced Darren Clarke and rookie Rory McIlroy could also have a say in the outcome of the tournament.

This week also sees the return of troubled 42-year-old Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal. The Spaniard, struggling with a knee injury last year and then rheumatism, has not played since last August’s U.S. PGA Championship, where he finished 134th, currently also his world ranking.


March 26, 2008

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