Lee Westwood Your Golf Travel Ambassador
We're thrilled to have 9-time Ryder Cupper Lee Westwood as our ambassador, joining his good friend and ISM stablemate Darren Clarke to bring Your Golf Travel customers, the very best golf holidays and deals at fantastic destinations across the globe.
With 40 professional victories, Lee's golfing highlights include best finishes of 2nd at The Open and The Masters as well as ties for 3rd in the US Open and USPGA. As a regular on the PGA Tour, Westwood will be bringing YGT customers a unique insight and advice from the US.
Lee's career has seen him reach the very top of the game, assuming the mantle of World Number 1 in October 2010. As one of Europe's most successful Ryder Cup players, Westwood is now just 2 points shy of Nick Faldo's record of 25 points.
Lee will be hosting exclusive giveaways, competitions and even opportunities to play with him so make sure you keep checking back here for your chance to win!
Exclusive Ryder Cup Interview
We caught up with Lee Westwood on Tuesday following Europe's victory at Gleneagles where Westwood claimed 2 points from his 4 matches.
Lee, thanks for joining us so soon after another momentous Ryder Cup victory. Can I start by asking what the celebrations entailed?
Quite a lot of drinking (laughs). It went on quite late. I left the party at about 5.30am and I was definitely not the last to leave. It was a case of all the lads and the team around us getting together and celebrating the win afterwards and letting our hair down; just having some fun really.
How does the head feel this morning?
The head feels a lot better this morning than it did yesterday morning, I can tell you. I had a good night's sleep last night which followed on from the hour's sleep I had on Sunday night.
What does Lee Westwood prescribe to cure a Ryder Cup hangover?
Definitely a big fry-up.
You and Jamie Donaldson formed quite a strong partnership with 2 points from your three matches. When did you find out you would be playing together?
The seed was sown a couple of weeks beforehand and we played with each other in Wales and then we played with each other in the practice rounds. That was obviously part of Paul's plan and I guess part of the reason why he picked me really; he saw a match-up there with Jamie and it worked out well. We've got very similar games and we complimented each other well.
In recent Ryder Cups you've been paired with similarly experienced guys in Darren Clarke and Sergio Garcia. How did you find partnering a rookie?
It was good. I've played with a few rookies now; obviously I've played with Sergio and Darren... Faldo and Monty – all with plenty of experience - but at the same time I've played with Martin Kaymer at his first one and Soren Hansen and obviously this time with Jamie. I enjoyed it. When you're a senior player you have to take on that responsible role where you show somebody the ropes.
I'm sure that you're aware of Phil Mickelson's very public criticism of Tom Watson's captaincy on Sunday afternoon. How much does a captain and the way they set up the week actually impact you as a player?
The captain can make a big difference. Paul showed that he pulled his team all together, got us bonding well and got the right partnerships and sent us out in the right order. Whereas Tom, the lads have criticised him a little bit, a few of them felt alienated and a few thought he was a little bit out of touch with some of the team. But it's very difficult to talk about somebody when you're not in that team room and in that atmosphere; a lot of it you're hearing second and third hand. I don't want to comment too much too much on Tom's captaincy because I respect the man and I've got on well with Tom for years; I think he's a legend and a nice guy. But I will comment on McGinley's captaincy and I thought he did an unbelievable job. I couldn't pick any holes in his captaincy to be honest.
Looking towards Hazeltine in 2016, who would you like to see fill Paul McGinley's shoes?
I think Darren should get the job next time around. I think it was very close between Paul and Darren this time. Darren is well respected in the United States and obviously the match is in Minnesota. He's well respected by the players aswell and he's still playing on the Tour, so he knows a lot of the players and is still in touch with a lot of players. He's obviously got a great Ryder Cup record and I think he'd make a good captain. He's got a lot of other recent European captains to pick bits off their captaincy and I'm sure Paul would sit down with Darren and help him if he ever needed it. I think Darren would be the ideal choice.
Lee's Favourite Overseas Venues
I've put together a brief selection of some of the venues I've either been lucky enough to win at or been the scene of a great Ryder Cup!
The Volvo Masters was my 2nd win on the European Tour. The tournament was usually held at Valderrama but the year I won was the 1st time it had been hosted at Montecastillo. This is a cracking Jack Nicklaus course and the whole complex has a Wentworthy feel to it, with the huge El Castillo clubhouse proudly overlooking the course. Like lots of Jack's courses, there is room off the tee but the closer you get to the green, the more accurate you have to be.
Bro Hof Slott is another course I have very fond memories of and not just because I won my third Nordea Masters there by 5 shots! Every inch of the course seems to have been in perfect condition when I've played there and it's long; really long! Amateurs should definitely think about playing from slightly forward tees and from there it's really a case of avoiding the water. Easier said than done when there's so much of it, especially on the island green 17th - make sure you have the right club!
Dubai World Championship
When I won in Dubai, it was the 1st year when the old Order of Merit system had been replaced with the Race to Dubai so I was very proud to secure the win at the Jumeirah Golf Estates and secure the top spot in the Race to Dubai. They have two golf courses out there but we play on the Earth Course so tune into the European Tour at the end of the season to get a closer look at it. It's a cracking course with great driving holes and Greg Norman's done a really job with it.
Before winning the Portugal Masters at Oceanico Victoria, I hadn't won a tournament for a couple of years but had come close, losing a few playoffs, with plenty of top 10s and close calls, so it was nice to get back into the winner's circle! The win also got me back into the top five in the world. Oceanico Victoria is a ball striker's course. It's long but there's plenty of room so you can have a bit of fun with the driver. Course management is important here as there is a bit of water in play.
Royal Zoute is probably my favourite golf course in Belgium and I have enjoyed my fair share of success there in the past, winning the Belgian Open in 1998 and again in 2000 for my fifth win of the season. The layout's great and I love the blend of perfectly manicured greens and fairways, and the natural, rough and ready landscape the course sits on. It isn't that well known compared to other top courses in Europe so I'd urge golfers to check it out. It's a real hidden gem.
What can you say about Crans-sur-Sierre? It's almost impossible not to enjoy a round of golf somewhere this beautiful and it might just be the most spectacular place I have ever played. I was lucky enough to win the 1999 European Masters here which at the time was my third win on the trot on the European Tour. The course is unique and in an amazing setting. It's fun playing here as the ball goes absolutely miles due to the altitude. If you fancy hitting the biggest drives of your life, this is the place!
Kungsangen is one of many top courses in Sweden. It hosted the Scandinavian Masters a few times around the turn of the millennium and it's a great course to play. The fairways are tree-lined, the greens are big and really slopey and there are enough water hazards and bunkers to test your iron play too. When I won here I shot a really good 63 in the 1st round which set up the win, but there are always plenty of chances to lose shots along the way, so take care off the tee.
1997 Ryder Cup
My first Ryder Cup experience at Valderrama is certainly one which will live long in the memory. I managed to claim 2 points out of a possible 3 with Nick Faldo, including a memorable 2 and 1 victory over Tiger and Mark O'Meara in the Saturday four-ball matches. I've always enjoyed playing at Valderrama as it is very demanding off the tee and although I've not quite managed an individual victory, a tie for 4th in 2008 was my most recent result, there it always provides a great test.
Lee's Favourite UK & Ireland Venues
From Ryder Cup's at The Belfry and The K Club to my attached course, Close House, I take a look at some of my most memorable courses in the UK and Ireland.
I love playing at The Belfry. Obviously with the Ryder Cup history it has, I have plenty of fond memories of The Brabazon course and my win at the British Masters in 2007 makes it an even more special venue for me. I played really solidly on Sunday that year and ended up winning by 5 shots I think. Poults had pushed me all day but after holing a long birdie putt on the 16th, I eagled the next and it left me with a relatively easy walk up 18 to claim the title.
Obviously the 2006 Ryder Cup at the K Club was a special event. It wasn't just the fact that we won by a record margin but the emotion surrounding the event, what with what was going on with Darren at the time, made for an incredible few days. Darren was immense that week and won all three points and I was lucky enough to have him as a partner. I also enjoyed back to back wins there at the European Open so it's a place I always enjoy going back to.
Great North Open
I was playing really well in the summer of 2000 and won five events including the European Grand Prix at Slaley Hall, near Newcastle, my second win of the season. I finished on -12 which was good enough to beat Darren Clarke by 5! The Hunting Course there is relatively young but is one of the best new courses in England and I've really enjoyed it when I've played there. It has a few hints of Augusta about it, plus has some really testing drives and some slick greens.
I'll always remember Hanbury Manor as the English Open in 1998 was the first European Tour event I won on British soil and, at the time, it took me to the top of the Order of Merit. I shot 3 rounds of 68 and 1 of 67 for a -17 total, my driving was great that week and think it is key to scoring well here. It's quite an American style golf course but it's a good test of golf and the setting is really nice, with the grand old building a very English ambience to the place.
Alfred Dunhill Links
Carnoustie is a great golf course. Certainly one of the toughest I have played but if you embrace the challenge, it's really rewarding when you shoot a good score. One of the best rounds I have ever played was actually at Carnoustie and it was a level par 72! That's an indication of how tough this course can get from time to time. I've done ok here in the Open Championship previously with a tie for 18th my best result, hopefully when The Open returns here I'll be able to better that!
Alfred Dunhill Links
What's not to love about the Old Course? I think all golfers who have a love for the game need to play here at some point. I count myself fortunate to have won here. Being presented with the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship trophy in such an iconic place was an amazing experience and hopefully one day I'll get my hands on the Claret Jug here too. I think that's the ultimate for any British golfer. Whilst the record books will say I came 2nd here in 2010, I was 7 shots back from Louis Oosthuizen!
Alfred Dunhill Links
I love Kingsbarns but I suppose it's hard not to love a course where you've shot a 62 which included an Albatross! Everything seemed to be going my way around the time of the Alfred Dunhill in 2003 so to get the chance to play such a spectacular course when you're on form is great. Kingsbarns might be manmade to a certain degree but it looks and feels every bit the real deal. Holes like 12 and 15 are simply stunning, just make sure you take the correct club or you could find yourself in the sea!
My Attached Course
I am the attached tour pro for Close House so I do have a certain soft spot for the place, in particular the Colt Course, which I think is one of the top new courses in to have been built in recent years. I know Scott Macpherson put in a huge amount of effort into his research on Harry Colt courses and I think he's done a brilliant job designing the course with those old school design principles in mind. The course is a cracker and it's only going to get better with time, it is well worth a visit!
Lee Westwood and Close House
As the attached Tour Professional at Close House, Lee has been involved in some of the exciting new developments at one of the North East's premier golfing destinations. Having been involved in the design of both courses, Lee is looking forward to the resort hosting a major tournament in the not too distant future. For those wanting to play the course now, simply check out the Close House page here.
Those booking a group of 12 or more with Your Golf Travel will receive an invite to play in the Lee Westwood Golf Day at Close House for them and a partner! Terms and conditions apply, speak to your YGT consultant at time of booking for more information.