Experienced Westwood ready
Playing in his eighth consecutive Ryder Cup, Lee Westwood is the most experienced member of José María Olazábal’s European side and the Englishman is ready to act a leader both and off the course.
Having made his debut 15 years ago at Valderrama in Spain, Westwood has been on a winning European side on five occasions since, winning a total of 19 valuable points in the process, and the World Number Four recognises his role as European talisman while insisting it that it is Captain Olazábal who holds the reins at Medinah.
“I'm the most experienced player on the team, but José Maria is the leader,” said Westwood, who was full of praise for the Spaniard with just two days left until the competition proper begins.
“Even if you set The Ryder Cup captain thing aside, I just think he's a really great fella. He's a good, solid man. He's honest. He'll tell you what he thinks. He's calculated.
“And then you bring into it his passion and his flair, I guess a bit of the Spanish influence there, and the fact that he's played in numerous Ryder Cups, teamed up with Seve Ballesteros, and that's bound to have rubbed off on him a little bit. He's the all round package.”
Westwood, a rookie under the stewardship of Ballesteros in 1997, has since then served under a plethora of golfing greats in the biennial contest and the Worksop man knows on a personal level that it is equally as important to act as a leader both in golfing terms and in the team room.
“I think both are equally as important really,” said the 39 year old. “This is my eighth Ryder Cup and eighth different Captain, so I've experienced more than any other player I think in Ryder Cup history, different captains at different Ryder Cups, and seen the way different captains do it.
“The way they do it right and maybe some mistakes that captains make – because everybody makes mistakes. You're not going to get it right all the time.
“If I'm asked my opinion, then I'll give it. It will be considered – I won't say educated – but I'd have a fair amount of background and knowledge of the experience.”
During the second day of practice in the Chicago suburb, there was plenty of talk of potential partners for Westwood the opening Foursomes and Fourball Matches with Spaniard Sergio Garcia’s name firmly in the mix.
The duo has played together eight times in their Ryder Cup careers, claiming an impressive six points in the process so Olazábal could be certainly considering a reprisal come Friday morning.
“Sergio is a world class players and one of the best Ryder Cup players I've certainly partnered,” Westwood commented.
“He helped me at The Belfry when I was struggling with my game. He was the bouncy sort of exuberant partner that I probably needed to take my mind off the seriousness of The Ryder Cup and just sort of go out and just hit the ball and find it and hit it again and try and make a few putts.
“He's great for that. He's good fun in the team room and he's very passionate about The Ryder Cup. He gets stuck in.”