Happy Birthday Lee Westwood
Ten-time Ryder Cup star Lee Westwood is celebrating his 47th birthday today, so what better excuse then to look back at one of the Englishman’s great performances for Team Europe.
The 2006 Ryder Cup, hosted at the K Club, was the first time the biennial event had visited Ireland with a then 33-year-old Westwood selected as one of Team Europe Captain Ian Woosnam’s wildcards.
And he did not let the Welshman down.
Playing in all five matches that week, he went unbeaten returning four points to help Europe pick up their third consecutive Ryder Cup victory for the first time in history.
The then World Number 51 was paired alongside Northern Irishman Darren Clarke, who had lost his wife, Heather, to cancer just six weeks earlier, in the opening session fourball matches.
In one of the most emotional scenes witnessed at The Ryder Cup, both players and fans alike were in tears as the wildcard duo made their way to the first tee.
Facing the experienced pairing of Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk, who were then World Number Two and Three, the Europeans pulled off an unlikely victory, winning by one hole.
That afternoon Westwood was partnered with Ryder Cup Europe stalwart Colin Montgomerie and would face Mickelson once again, this time paired with Chris DiMarco who had finished second at The 135th Open Championship that year.
The pair picked up one of three halves of that session, with Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia winning the fourth and final match of the session.
The following day, Clarke and Westwood would link up yet again in the morning fourball matches and they would face Furyk who was this time paired with World Number One, Open Champion and US PGA Champion Tiger Woods.
However, this wouldn’t stop the confident European pairing as they showed grit and determination to defeat Furyk and Woods 3&2.
Westwood was back alongside Montgomerie on Saturday afternoon – who was playing in his eighth Ryder Cup at the time – and would face an all new challenge of Chad Campbell and Vaughn Taylor.
It may have been different opponents, but the European pair came out with the same result, picking up half a point for their team as Europe raced to a 10-6 lead heading into the Sunday singles..
Playing in the penultimate singles match, Westwood was there as an anchor for his team, and when Sweden’s Henrik Stenson holed the winning putt, the pressure was off the Englishman to deliver against DiMarco.
Westwood secured a win by two holes to tie Europe’s record winning margin, which they’d achieved just two years prior, as the they ran out 18.5 – 9.5 victors.
This win also meant Westwood became the first European wildcard to return four points for Team Europe.
The former World Number One would go on to represent Europe at the next five consecutive Ryder Cups before being part of the team as one of Thomas Bjørn’s Vice Captain’s at The 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National.