Lee Westwood ran out a comfortable winner of the Thailand Golf Championship in Bangkok, and ended 2011 on a high note following his earlier victory in the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
Westwood, a former world number one, had raced into a halfway 11-shot lead before South African Charl Schwartzel – the current US Masters champion – had reeled him back to just four shots in the third round; setting up a tense final round for the Worksop golfer who has had a largely indifferent year.
However, despite the attentions of Schwartzel, Westwood was solid throughout Sunday to post a final round 69 for an overall score of 22-under par 266 – seven clear of second placed Schwartzel.
It wasn’t until the turn in the final round before Westwood could breathe easily; despite birdies at the second and third to give him some breathing space, Westwood added another on the 12th and followed with another gain at the next to effectively put the seal on the win.
But with the island 17th to come, Westwood knew he still had work to do. Thankfully for him, he navigated the hole safely, but Schwartzel wasn’t so fortunate and made bogey.
“I wasn’t happy until I was on that boat coming back from the island on 17 with a big lead.” Westwood said afterward his round, knowing that despite his big advantage heading into the hole, one slip could have undone much of his good work.
Schwartzel’s bogey on 17 was followed by another on the final hole, but it wasn’t enough to damage the US Masters champion’s second place. American Michael Thomson finished alone in third, while Simon Dyson took a share of fourth place on 12-under par alongside home player Chawalit Plaphol.
The win in South Africa and in Thailand ensured Westwood will go into the winter hiatus with a lot of renewed confidence after a relatively disappointing 2011. Westwood picked up wins at the Asian Tour’s Indonesian Masters and the co-sanctioned Ballantines Championship, before wins at the Nedbank Challenge and this past weekend.
Westwood will now take a break over the Christmas period before kicking off his 2012 season, and to help in his quest for an elusive first major, Westwood has rejoined the PGA Tour full-time for 2012.
“I’ll go into the winter with a lot of confidence and I’ll try to come out next year playing the same kind of golf as I played this week, a little bit leaner and well rested.”
Westwood also finishes the season ranked number 3 in the Official Golf World Rankings.