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An Interview with Lee Westwood


September 15, 2004

JULIUS MASON: Good morning, Lee. Some opening thoughts and we'll go to Q&A, if you don't mind.

LEE WESTWOOD: Well, it's been an interesting qualification for the Ryder Cup this time. It was down to the last week for the European Team as it normally is and it's nice to be here eventually and get down to some playing.

JULIUS MASON: Questions, folks.

Q. Is it a good thing the qualification was so intense and went right to the wire, it means that everyone has maintained a competitive edge all the way through, is that better than having a bunch of guys who were in practically from the first six months of the process?

LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, you've got the guys that are playing well at the time. It was very impressive the way people played at the BMW, the last qualifying event, the likes of McGinley, Poulter, David Howell, Paul Casey, Miguel won the tournament, Luke Donald played pretty good. We all made the cut and finished high up. If you can play under that kind of pressure, you're trying to qualify in the last event, then you should be all right this week.

Q. How difficult was it leaving Laurae and the new arrival behind and have you been in touch? How are they at the moment?

LEE WESTWOOD: Fine. It wasn't difficult. Laurae knew that this is obviously a very big week for me and poppy turned up on the 5th of September and so I had a week at home and Laurae as well. It was nice to get away and get some sleep. (Laughing) I've come away with the famous cold, though, as soon as the kids go back to school, they are bringing colds home and sure enough I've got one.

Q. With your family situation and the way you were playing two years ago, are you coming into this, this year more relaxed and looking forward to it more than The Belfry in 2002?

LEE WESTWOOD: I approach and treat everything more relaxed nowadays. Since I had a bit of a slump, I treat everything -- if I play badly I brush it off and it's not the end of the world. I'm a lot more light-hearted now. So, yeah, this week I am more relaxed.

Q. Having competed in a few of these now, do you buy the idea that team camaraderie equates to team success, does one have to do with the other?

LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, to a certain extent. I think that does help. I like the fact that the Europeans, most of the European Team are playing well coming into this week and have had a lot of good results. I think that probably means more than the camaraderie. Although we do have a very good team spirit again this week, probably the best team spirit of all the Ryder Cups I've played in to be honest.

Q. How so? Why?

LEE WESTWOOD: I think we just managed to get a good bunch of lads together that all get on very well with different personalities and different approaches to certain things. We're all getting on very well.

Q. When you have Germans and Frenchmen and Englishmen and Irishmen, what is your common ground there? How do you guys come together?

LEE WESTWOOD: Well, we mix week-in and week-out. It's not like we all come together for this week. We go out to dinner, I go out to dinner with Darren and Ian Poulter and David Howell quite regularly out on tour. So, you know, this week, we're not in a different kind of environment than we normally would be. So we are all very comfortable with each other's presence and there's a lot of laughing and joking. The fact that Thomas is French, he lives in London, so he picks up the English humor very easily. Thomas Bjorn lives in London as well. It's just a good balance in the team room.

Q. The camaraderie that you speak of, it's been talked about in a variety of the press conferences and it's been pointed out that the Americans aren't perhaps as tight as the European players, they don't go out and break bread with one another and they are much more individual. Your thoughts on that and if that perhaps may lend itself to why the Europeans have done so well in recent Ryder Cup competition?

LEE WESTWOOD: It just seems to be the way it is over here on the U.S. tour. You get a courtesy car every week so you have a bit more freedom. Whereas we jump on a coach, generally stay in the same hotels. Whereas generally over here on the Tour they stay in a wide variety of hotels or in houses.

The Tour over here just seems to be bigger and more widespread.

Q. How does that translate then into effectiveness as a Ryder Cup Team in terms of on a biannual level you get a chance to play together?

LEE WESTWOOD: I don't know, I guess we know each other's games a lot better. I know how Darren plays. We play a lot of practice rounds together. It's just familiarity, I guess.

Q. What do you make of these greens and how do you cope with them?

LEE WESTWOOD: If I was to design a course now and put greens like this, I think I would be absolutely ridiculed and probably not get another design job ever. They are just like greens you've never seen before, massive slopes with small levels on the sides of them. They are very unique.

But at the same time, very fair. They seem to play very fair anyway. It's not like they -- it seems to be very popular nowadays, some of those roll-off areas where it runs off the green and away, whereas here it just seems to roll -- bowl areas on the green where it's very difficult to 2-putt from, which seems a little bit fairer -- great fun hitting the green 15 feet from the flag and you roll off the green two feet into the thick rough. I feel like you do still have a putt on these greens which makes them very fair.

Q. What are the elements of a good alternate-shot combination of players? Is it really -- is the strategy part a little overrated and with both guys playing well, will you be able to play with anybody else who is playing well or is there more to it than that?

LEE WESTWOOD: I think first and foremost on this golf course, you have to figure out who is a good iron player. The par 3s are all odd numbers, so in my mind, the good driver of the ball would take the even numbers and the good iron player would take the odd numbers. And you've got to really get on with your partner so well that you don't care where you hit it if you hit a bad shot. There's nothing worse than playing with somebody and hitting a bad shot and saying, "Sorry about that"; there's no room for that in foursomes golf, you have to get on with it and try to get up-and-down from wherever it's finished and just brush it off. But the main thing about foursomes golf is not giving holes away. Try not to make any bogeys. Normally 2- or 3-under in foursomes golf wins a match.

Q. So much is talked about having Ryder Cup experience, in your experience, is it a lot easier playing in these after you've played in one or two or does it really make a lot of difference?

LEE WESTWOOD: Well, you're still nervous before you get around to playing. But you obviously know what to expect. You know what's coming. You know how much there is to do away from the golf course, how busy the days are, so it's a little easier to sort of prepare and kind of schedule the week.

Q. Was the last Ryder Cup the turning point of you getting out of that slump that you talked about when you're attitude to life changed?

LEE WESTWOOD: No, I didn't particularly play much better the week of that Ryder Cup. I just holed more putts. I holed lots of 20-footers, 20 to 30-footers, and at the right time. That was really why I did so well at the last Ryder Cup.

Q. So how did you get out of the slump? What do you put it down to?

LEE WESTWOOD: Going to David was a big change for me, gave me a fresh approach to it. Just structured my practice and the lines, what I was going to work now, but that's all in the past. I don't talk about that anymore.

Q. Much is made about Colin and his leadership in the Ryder Cup and obviously his record is superb, can you speak to some of the things he might say or do that sort of describe how he is a leader, in what ways?

LEE WESTWOOD: He doesn't really have to say too much. He's just got presence. The way he's played in past Ryder Cups, just, you know, proves how solid of a player he is and how good he is. He seems to be able to elevate his game for this week.

Although, to be honest, I've played with him in regular tour events when he was at his peak in '98, '99. I played against him and he played some unbelievable golf at times. But I don't really want to say too much, you have to ask him what he says in the team room. I don't want to give anything away for when he's captain.

JULIUS MASON: Questions? Questions twice? Thanks for coming down, Lee.

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