Westwood bidding for 11th Ryder Cup start
Lee Westwood’s ambitions of tying the all-time European appearance record at the Ryder Cup received a huge boost after the Englishman’s impressive performance at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard on the PGA TOUR, finishing runner-up to Bryson DeChambeau.
The reigning Race to Dubai Champion would tie Sir Nick Faldo’s European record of 11 Ryder Cup appearances if he makes it into Pádraig Harrington’s European Team at Whistling Straits in September.
He carded rounds of 69-71-65-73 to finish one stroke behind champion DeChambeau at Bay Hill Club & Lodge, climbing four places into seventh position on the World Points List and into an automatic qualifying spot on 139.29 points.
A stunning 65 on Saturday at ‘Arnie’s Place’ fired Westwood to the top of the leaderboard and into the final group alongside DeChambeau on Sunday.
A monumental battle ensued as the pair of Ryder Cup players went toe-to-toe in extremely challenging conditions in Florida.
There was nothing to separate the duo for much of the round until a three-putt bogey from Westwood at the 14th saw him drop one back from the 2020 U.S. Open champion, where he would remain to just miss out on a third PGA TOUR title.
DeChambeau’s closing 71, one under par, tied the low score of the final round.
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"You can't want for more than that. I thought we had a really good battle," said Westwood. "It was never really more than one (shot) all day, and there were tough conditions out there. It was a day for playing sensible and hanging on."
It was a continuation of Westwood’s remarkable form in 2020, when he claimed his third Race to Dubai title on the European Tour thanks to consistent form across the year, including victory at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship – meaning the Englishman had won titles in four different decades.
At the age of 47, he also became the oldest Race to Dubai champion.
A quartet of European stars finished in a tie for 10th at Bay Hill in Matthew Fitzpatrick, Paul Casey, Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood.
Fitzpatrick and Fleetwood each climbed one spot on the World Points List, with the former moving into sixth position and the second automatic spot with 140.74 points. Fleetwood sits in fourth on the World Points List with 168.84 points but will currently qualify on the European Points List, where he occupies second position on 4,433.06 points.
As it stands Tyrrell Hatton (4,501.44 points), Fleetwood (4,433.06 points), Jon Rahm (3,845.90 points) and McIlroy (3,789.53 points) fill the automatic qualification places on the European Points List.
Meanwhile, Viktor Hovland (161.44 points), Fitzpatrick (140.74 points), Westwood (139.29), Victor Perez (139.15 points) and Casey (138.86 points) would all qualify via the World Points List.