English­man needs just 2.5 points to be­come Europe’s most suc­cess­ful player

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE -

When Lee West­wood made his Ry­der Cup de­but back in 1997 at Valder­rama he could never have imag­ined that nearly two decades later he would have the chance to set a new points record for Europe.

On his de­but ap­pear­ance it was Nick Faldo lead­ing by ex­am­ple as he set a new record of 25 points from his 11 Ry­der Cup ap­pear­ances.

West­wood had also im­pressed, so much so that Faldo sent him a photo of the pair with a per­son­alised mes­sage say­ing: “Thanks for help­ing me beat the record.”

Now West­wood has the chance to bring his ca­reer full cir­cle at Hazel­tine, where the 43-year-old will be the se­nior fig­ure look­ing to in­spire a new young and hun­gry gen­er­a­tion of Euro­pean golfers.

He also has the chance to over­take Faldo and be­come Europe’s all-time lead­ing points scorer.

“If it hap­pens, per­haps I’ll take the photo down off the wall, sign it and send it back to him,” joked West­wood. “Ob­vi­ously, you have to con­cen­trate on the team and each match rather than get ahead of your­self, but the record is in the back of my mind.

“I couldn’t have imag­ined in my wildest dreams that I’d go past Seve’s [Balles­teros] mark and have the chance to catch Nick.

“It would be a mas­sive achieve­ment. These are play­ers I grew up watch­ing, Ry­der Cup leg­ends. To be in their cat­e­gory, what can I say? It just means a lot.”

A vet­eran of the Euro­pean team, West­wood also re­vealed a lit­tle glimpse into the mind games that he likes to play with the op­po­si­tion.

He has al­ready stirred the pot by sug­gest­ing the in­clu­sion of Tiger Woods in the US team as a vice­cap­tain could have an ad­verse ef­fect on the team.

Now West­wood has re­vealed why in every match he has played he is nearly al­ways the last player to make it to the first tee.

“I like to look around at who we’re play­ing, study them and some­times you can see they’re a bit ner­vous,” he ex­plained. “When you’re ner­vous you go to the first tee a lit­tle early and I’m think­ing: ‘No, I’m not go­ing yet.’ You can wait.”

The Ry­der Cups be­gins on Fri­day.

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