Westwood Ready to Head West
Lee Westwood is a rarity among English professional golfers; he joins only three others since 1970 to win both the European Tour Order of Merit and at least one PGA TOUR event. The other three: Tony Jacklin, Peter Oosterhuis and Nick Faldo. Westwood joined the group following his 2000 season, validating the 1998 Zurich Classic of New Orleans title. But with so much promise in the late '90s and his five-win season in Europe in 2000, Westwood began to vanish at the beginning of this decade. Dropping to 52nd in 2001 and 75th in 2002 on the Order of Merit, and failing to obtain starts in majors, he bounced back in 2003 with a couple of wins and then went on another victory drought until last weekend. With so much attention focused on a group of British players which didnt seem to include Westwood -- names like Poulter, Rose, Donald, Howell -- perhaps the 34-year-old from Worksop can now begin to claw his way back towards winning in the States, preferably a major. He began the week at the Valle Romano Open de Andaluca ranked 63rd in the world. His victory moved him to 48th and a place at Oakmont beckons -- not to mention his confidence will be sky high approaching the Irish Open and the flagship BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
Garrett the Hottest Player in Womens Golf?
Forget Lorena Ochoa or recently crowned major champion Morgan Pressel, the hottest player in womens golf right now is Australian Nikki Garrett. The 23-year-old, 2006 rookie of the year on the LET added her second consecutive victory last week in Spain. Two weeks ago in Tenerife she captured the first title of her career at the Tenerife Ladies Open and then finished with 70 on Sunday to add the Spanish Open title to her collection. The field is obviously not as a strong as the more lucrative LPGA Tour, but a win is a win surely? Sadly, though, it looks as if Garrett will not be joining the field of the years second major in June. The McDonalds LPGA Championship doesnt include a category for international winners and despite her two victories, she wont be high enough on the rankings to obtain a spot in that way. Her only chance it seems would be through a special exemption.
Challenge Tour Beginning to Take Shape
Joost Luiten from Holland collected the AGF Allianz Golf Open de Toulouse in France last week. The 21-year-old rookie carded a final-round 64 to surprise the third-round leaders and take the win. Last weeks tournament was the eighth event on this seasons schedule and the rankings are beginning to take shape with two-time winner Eduardo Molinari at the head of the pack. Molinari, a former U.S. Amateur champion is now on the battlefield promotion watch-list; he only needs one more win to obtain an automatic card for the European Tour. Luiten moved to third with his win.
Tom Abbott will host live coverage of the Sybase Classic beginning on Friday at 7 p.m. on GOLF CHANNEL (Sky Digital Channel 423)
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