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Freeport McDermott Classic
English Turn Golf Course and Country Club
New Orleans
2nd - 5th April 1998

Par 72 Prize Money $1.7 million

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Lee Westwood wins his first US event

New Orleans, 5th April 1998 - Lee Westwood, the young 24-year-old British golfing star who turned pro five years ago, made $306,000 on Sunday -- his grandmother made "140 quid."

Westwood shot a four-round total of 273 for a three-stroke victory and the $306,000 winner's share of the $1.7 million Freeport-McDermott Classic. His grandmother bet five pounds on him winning his first U.S. tournament and the British bookmakers paid off to the tune of £140 ($224).

"My nan and I both made some money, didn't we," Westwood said.

Westwood's final-round 69 on the 7,116-yard, par-72 English Turn course he saw for the first time on Tuesday was his sixth consecutive round in the 60s, dating to the third round of The Players Championship. His scores for the week were 69, 68, 67 and 69.

Steve Flesch, a left-handed rookie who led after two rounds and was one-stroke back to start the day, made one birdie in a game of steady par to finish at 12-under in second place. Flesch was three strokes ahead of first-round leader Glen Day, Jim Carter, Mark Wiebe and Steve Lowery.

"Did I think a bogey-free round would do it? Only if I made five or six birdies to go with it," Flesch said. "I knew the way Lee has been playing I was going to have to go out there and shoot. I figured it would take 16-under to win it."

Day made six birdies to tie for second at 12-under through 16 holes, then had a double bogey on 17 and a bogey on 18 to finish six strokes off the pace.

Westwood had won six titles -- two in Europe, two in Japan, the Australian Open and the Malaysian Open. Last year he posted 12 top-10 finishes around the world, including three victories in November. He is the first non-PGA Tour member and first sponsor's exemption to win on the tour since Tiger Woods did it at the 1996 Las Vegas Invitational.

Freeport-McDermott was the third U.S. tournament Westwood played this year, his seventh ever.

Westwood started the day at 12 under, one stroke ahead of Flesch. He wasted no time taking control -- with birdies on No. 2 and No. 4 to go 14 under at the turn.

He added a birdie on the 10th and then sank a 40-foot putt for a birdie on 11 that put him at 16 under.

"I got the killer blows on 10 and 11," Westwood said. "That 40-footer won it for me. It's a case of driving the nail in when you can."

Westwood's first bogey of the round came on the 14th hole. He was putting out of the deep fringe when the ball popped up and his putter hit it again. Westwood called the extra stroke on himself. He also had a bogey on 17 when his put skimmed around the lip of the cup.

The murderous 542-yard, par 5, 15th, with the hole located on a tiny island, was kind to both Westwood and Flesch, who both birdied it.

Westwood took up golf at 13 after watching Jack Nicklaus on TV as Nicklaus won the Masters in 1986. The sport soon replaced his first loves -- soccer and cricket -- and by the time he was 16, Westwood was a scratch golfer with an English boy's team.

Westwood, who became an automatic qualifier for the Tour next season with the win, was already eligible for next week's Masters. His victory denied Day and Flesch a ticket to Augusta National.

Westwood tied for 24th in the Masters last year.

"I'm hundreds of times better than I was last year going into Augusta," Westwood said. "It's going exactly where I want it now. I'm more experienced. A major would definitely be my next goal."

The English Turn Golf and Country Club is a par-72 layout that measures 7,116 yards.


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