Lee Westwood rolled back the years – and just about held back the tears – with a brilliant final round display to capture his 25th European Tour event with victory at the 2020 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
The 46-year-old entered the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club with a one-shot lead and, while he was briefly caught, he was never headed, carding a closing 67 to get to 19 under par and finish two shots ahead of Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood and Victor Perez.
Fleetwood fired a final round 63 on his 29th birthday to lift his hopes of bagging a third Abu Dhabi tite, while Perez matched him for the lowest round of his European Tour career.Fitzpatrick went bogey-free in a round of 67, but the day belonged to Westwood, who won his 25thtitle just over 23 years after his maiden victory at the 1996 Volvo Scandinavian Masters.
Westwood said: “I’m ecstatic, elated, and a bit emotional. Just great to keep playing well, and know you’re still good enough, means so much to me. I’ve put in a lot of hard work with Phil Kenyon and I’ve been working with Ben Davis on the psychological part of it, but I really felt quite calm on the greens this week and rolled a lot of good putts. That was the key to winning, really. You’ve got to putt well to win any tournament, but especially at these events in the desert because the greens are so immaculate, you know that everybody is going to hole their putts.”
He added: “I was trying not to look at leaderboards, but I peeked at a few on the way around the back nine, and I could see that Victor shot nine under and Tommy had shot nine under and finished 17 under. I bogeyed 16, but I hit two good shots on 17, and it was a nice, solid birdie at the last. It’s hard to believe I’ve won in four different decades. The 20s could be the ones for me!”
Westwood was 63rd in the world rankings going into the event, but victory will move him inside the top 30, automatically qualifying him for all the majors and World Golf Championship events, and move him a step closer to automatic qualification for a potential eleventh Ryder Cup appearance.