Westwood wont play PGA Tour in 2011


European Tour

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Lee Westwood will not rejoin the PGA Tour when he succeeds Tiger Woods at the top of golf’s rankings.

The 37-year-old Englishman said Wednesday he will put his family first in 2011 and base himself on the European Tour despite the many more millions of dollars to be won competing for the FedEx Cup.

His only trips to America next year will be for the majors and World Golf Championships, and occasional tournaments which might help him prepare for them.

“I’m not taking my card up in the States,” Westwood said as he prepared for Thursday’s start of the Dunhill Links Championship at St. Andrews.

Finishing first or second in the $5 million event on three coastline courses including St. Andrews would see Westwood end Tiger Woods’ 278-week run as golf’s top-ranked player.

“Why would you take up membership in the States when you’ve been the most successful player in the world this year?” Westwood asked.

“When you’ve come in second in two major championships. You must be doing something right. Why not stick to the same schedule?

“I don’t want to get into a situation where I have to play events in America just to make up 15 needed for tour membership.

“The FedEx Cup sits right in the middle of the kids’ summer holidays and I like going on holiday with them for a couple of weeks.

“I don’t want to be dictated to by having to play, having to go to America to play FedEx Cup when it doesn’t really mean that much to me.

“It doesn’t mean enough to me, anyway.”

Westwood admits he has been sounded out by American officials to join their tour, but coming off another successful Ryder Cup for Europe, he says he returned to thinking about only himself.

“As of Monday evening in Wales I became an individual again, and I do what’s right for Lee Westwood now,” he said.

Woods was not playing golf competitively until November when he visits China for the HSBC World Championship and Melbourne for the Australian Masters.

Because of the way the rankings are worked out over a two-year cycle of tournaments, No. 2-ranked Westwood will automatically surpass Woods in two weeks even without playing in Scotland this week.

Failing to finish in the top two on Sunday in the Dunhill Links will delay his promotion for only a few weeks, but Westwood didn’t want to take the easy option and rest up.

“I want to get to world No. 1 by playing the way I have the last two years and proving that I’m the best golfer and not fiddling around with the world ranking system and the mathematics of it all,” he said.

By choosing to play more in Europe than America in 2011 he will make the job of staying No. 1 even harder because for most weeks of the year PGA Tour events carry more ranking points.

The Dunhill Links is an exception to that rule, with eight other members of the European Ryder Cup team taking part, including Graeme McDowell, Martin Kaymer, Rory McIlory, Padraig Harrington, Ross Fisher, Peter Hanson, Edoardo Molinari and captain Colin Montgomerie.