Lee Westwood shares a joke with the Kentucky crowd(Getty Images)

Westwood revelling in new Ryder role

By Steve Todd- Europeantour.com

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Lee Westwood admitted he is revelling in his new role as Europe's senior Ryder Cup player after helping nurture Nick Faldo's rookies through their first taste of Valhalla Golf Club.

With five Ryder Cups already under his belt, the Englishman is used to the huge pressure of playing in golf's greatest team competition and is keen to share his experience with Europe's five debutants.

Seen by many as Europe's on-course leader -- along with Sergio Garcia and Padraig Harrington -- Westwood had some words of encouragement for the European Team on the first tee before they began their first practice round on Tuesday.

He said: "I've got a lot of experience playing in The Ryder Cup now and got a lot to give back, and sometime in the future, a long way off, I would hope it would be my turn to be Captain at some stage. So I think showing that kind of responsibility when you're one of the more experienced players is a lead on to that. You know, I've quite enjoyed it really, the first couple of days.

"Obviously Monty and Darren (Clarke) are not here and they have played on every Ryder Cup Team recently so it's quite different. It's a little bit less experienced as a team but it's the first team in quite some time where everybody is inside of the Top 50 in the World Ranking. We've got a lot of enthusiasm - a lot of young enthusiastic people."

Westwood, who has won 14 of his 25 Ryder Cup Matches, revealed he had also helped rookie Oliver Wilson, who lives just 20 minutes away from him in England, before the Team flew out to Louisville.

"I played with him in his last qualifying round at Gleneagles, and it was the first time I played with him and impressed with how he handled it," he said. "He could have missed the cut quite easily and showed why he deserves to be a Ryder Cup player on those last ten holes when he shot four or five under par, and was still in with a chance on the weekend. That's the sort of form quality of player that we're coming into this event with.

"I gave him a call and let him know that if he needed anything, I was there, and obviously told him it's a great week and it's a lot to look forward to. I put my arm around him, really."

The 35 year old believes it is important for Europe to be quick out of the traps when the action gets underway for real on Friday, especially given the expected partisan Kentucky crowd.

"If we got off to a really good start, you can silence a crowd quite quickly as we did in Detroit," he said. "But you know, that's part of the fun of The Ryder Cup, the fact that when you're playing on your home turf, you've got all of the crowd behind you, and when you come into the States, all of the Americans are cheering for America. That's the great thing about it.

"You know, that's what drives me on, wanting to beat people and everything seems to be against you. The fact that you're playing in America, and you know, against the crowd as well, is part of the charm of it. It's as close as we as golfers get to a football match, really."

Westwood said he was looking forward to teeing up at Valhalla, where he finished tied 15th at the US PGA Championship in 2000.

He said: "It's certainly nice to be qualified for The Ryder Cup Team and it's good to be back here. The course has changed a little bit, a little bit longer I think, and the green construction has changed, as well. The 16th has changed a bit, and they have moved the tee back on the 17th. All in all I played pretty well today I thought and hopefully we should see a few birdies during the week."