Lee Westwood hails 'emotional' and 'special' Nedbank Golf Challenge victory

Published:

Lee Westwood hailed his first victory in over four years both 'emotional' and 'special' as he triumphed in Sun City at the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player

Westwood was emotional as he spoke with reporters immediately after his victory on Sunday, having admitted he wasn't sure if he'd ever get back in to the winners circle. 

"I'm a bit emotional to be honest, you're never sure whether you're going to be able to do it again," he told Sky Sports. 

Sergio Garcia had been the man to catch for the first three days of the tournament and started three shots ahead of his old Ryder Cup teammate, but a mistake on the first for the Spaniard and early eagle on the 2nd from Westwood propelled him in to a share of the lead. 

What ensued was a thrilling battle between the two European's and home favourite Louis Oosthuzien as the lead continued to change hands, but it was Westwood (playing in the penultimate group) who ultimately won out.

Oosthuizen had gained the solo lead on the fifth but by the next was joined by Garcia, and although the South African briefly moved ahead again on the seventh there was a three-way tie once more as Westwood converted his stellar approach shot on the eighth hole - and Oosthuizen three-putted the same hole soon after. 

It was Oosthuizen who broke free of the deadlock first with a trio of birides from the 9th to move two shots clear at 11, but a first bogey-birdie run of the day for the local was compounded as Westwood holed from the fringe on both 13 and 14 for birdie and Garcia nearly holed out for an ace on the 12th - leaving a two-way tie at the top and Garcia just one behind. 

Oosthuizen made his final birdie of the day on the par-five 14th after reaching the green in two, but Westwood matched him by holing from 18-feet on the 16th. 

From there it began to unravel for Oosthuizen, who three-putted on the 15th to lose a share of the lead. Westwood added his fifth birdie in seven holes at the 17th thanks to a brilliant approach to 12 feet, converting his chance to gain a two-shot lead. 

Garcia couldn't do more than finish with six consecutive pars to end three shots behind, while Oosthuizen was left needing an eagle on the last to force a play-off. Instead, he ended the day with a double-bogey and solo third place on 11-under, one shot behind Garcia. 

"Until now my emotions have felt really under control all day which is what I've been working hard on," Westwood said. "I was just trying to hit fairways and stick to my game-plan and hit it in the right places.

"I've got a bit of a process that I'm going through with my golf swing and I'm starting to see better shots. The seven iron into 17 is probably one of the best shots I've ever hit."

"I'm getting old, I did one for the old men today. You reach 45 and don't know what to expect. But I've always felt comfortable playing this golf course. This one is very special."

Westwood also paid tribute to his girlfriend for the win, who played the role of his caddie for just the second time after he gave regular bagman Billy Foster the week off before the DP World Tour Championship. 

"It's been brilliant," Westwood said about having her on the bag. "She's caddied twice for me this year and we lost in a play-off in Denmark and we've won here. Might have to have a bit of a rethink, not least about who caddies for me, but our percentages!" 

WITB: Lee Westwood 

Driver
Ping G400 LST (10 degrees) (D6), Shaft: Veylix Rome 60 X Tip 1”, 45.25″

3-wood
Ping G400 (14.5 degrees) (D3), Shaft: Aldila Phenom 70X, 43″

Hybrid
Ping G (19 degrees) (D2+), Shaft: Aldila ATX Tour Green 85X, 40.5”

Irons
Ping i210 4-PW, UW (50 degrees)
UW (54 degrees) (Std length, Blue color code, D0+)
Shafts: Ping JZ Stiff

Wedges
Ping Glide Forged (60 degrees), Shaft: JZ Stiff

Putter
Ping Sigma 2 Fetch 35”

Ball
Titleist Pro V1