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Lee Westwood at Medinah in 2012
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Europe

Westwood eyeing history in Hazeltine

Lee Westwood is hoping to overtake some of his greatest Ryder Cup heroes when he heads to Hazeltine National Golf Club later this month in search of a number of all-time records.

Westwood is making his tenth appearance in golf’s greatest team event and, with 20 victories and six halves under his belt in a Ryder Cup career that has spanned three decades, the Englishman has the history books in his sights.

Should he win 2½ points in Minnesota, Westwood would beat Sir Nick Faldo’s record of 25 points won at The Ryder Cup – the most of any player in the event’s history – while three victories would also put him level with his compatriot at the top of the table in terms of matches won.

The former World Number One is also bidding to overtake third-placed Colin Montgomerie, on 23.5, and second-placed Bernhard Langer, on 24 points but he knows he cannot get carried away with personal records and must focus on the team effort.

“It’s the highlight of every two years,” said the 43 year old. “I think that anybody who has played in The Ryder Cup wants to keep going back and keep playing them over and over again, because the atmosphere is very special. 

“The fact that you bond with your teammates that week and get into a team environment, which us golfers don’t play in very often, is special and it’s an incredible week. 

“I grew up watching people like Nick and all the European legends and actually partnering Nick, who had won all those Masters Tournaments and Open Championships that I had watched on TV.

“It was very special and comforting in a way that, I could look across the tee and you know Nick Faldo who’s playing in his 11th Ryder Cup and he’d seen most thing regarding a Ryder Cup. 

“It would be nice to get past Nick’s record. It was obviously special to get past Seve’s points total and it would be great to get to the top of the European points scoring chart.”

For the six rookies in Darren Clarke’s team for this month’s showpiece, there could hardly be a better partner than Westwood, who has been in the winning European team seven times out of his nine appearances.

The 23-time European Tour winner believes the way that the players are paired up can be crucial, and particularly this time around with so many debutants in the away side.

“In the foursomes I rarely get in trouble and in the fourballs I tend to make my fair share of birdies,” he said. “It’s been successful over the years, the way I have been paired up.

“I’ve played with some good partners and we have had some successful partnerships. People are comfortable playing with me, I put them at ease.

“You know, it’s just 18 holes and it just happens to be a lot of people watching and your representing the rest of the people on your team and your captain and Europe but not let that get to you.

“You know you’re going to have a few rookies and they are going to go in there wide-eyed, not really knowing what’s going to go on and what the atmosphere’s going to be like. That’s when you fall back on your experienced players to lead them in by the hand.”