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Lee Westwood set for Race to Dubai

Lee Westwood must banish the memory of one of his worst displays of the year when he goes in search of the European order of merit title at this week’s season-ending Dubai World Championship.

The 36-year-old Briton was all at sea on the greens in last week’s Hong Kong Open and finished down the field in joint 54th position on his first visit to Fanling.

Apart from missing the cut in the PGA Championship at Wentworth, the only other time the consistent Westwood has been outside the top 50 this season was when he was tied 61st at the WGC-CA Championship in Florida in March.

“Last week was a bit of an off week, nothing really went for me and I couldn’t get anything going,” the world number five told reporters on Tuesday.

“I don’t think it will have an effect on me. I am fairly optimistic and I have been playing this game long enough not to let one (bad) week bother me.”

Westwood is one of four players with a chance of winning Europe’s inaugural Race to Dubai.

The Englishman led the money list going into the Hong Kong Open but Rory McIlroy’s second-place finish in Hong Kong took the 20-year-old from Northern Ireland more than 128,000 euros ($190,700) clear at the top.

German Martin Kaymer, third on the money list, knows the lucrative first prize of 830,675 euros ($1.24 million) at the Dubai World Championship would guarantee him the order of merit crown while fourth-placed Briton Ross Fisher is also in contention.

The Greg Norman-designed Earth layout at Jumeirah Golf Estates will be making its European Tour debut in Thursday’s opening round of the Dubai World Championship.

“I don’t know anything about the course but it will be a new experience for everybody so they will be in the same boat as I was in Hong Kong,” said Westwood.

McIlroy knows he simply has to finish higher than his three rivals this week to top the Race to Dubai but said his chief concern was victory in the tournament.

“I won’t be trying to protect a lead or finish ahead of this guy or that guy,” he said. “I want to win. If I win it will take care of everything.”

Asked how it would feel to pick up both trophies, McIlroy replied: “It would be fantastic and that’s my aim. I was 11-under for the two rounds at the weekend in Hong Kong so I have good momentum going into the final week.”


November 18, 2009

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