If you're a golf fan like me, you've jumped on the fan bus of several PGA Tour golfers. I'm guessing most have a favorite (AKA Steve Stricker!), but with a season where players may only be in less than half of the events, it's logical to have a stable of favorites to root for each week.
Lee Westwood caught my eye a few years back when he had a T3 at the Masters (my favorite week of the year!)
I thought to myself, I could like this guy! He was "the UPS Man" with his sponsorship with them and his sometimes bright orange shirts made me realize that he didn't mind standing out in a crowd. While he didn't win on the PGA Tour in the 2012 season, he did have 7 Top 10's in 15 events, had a T2 at the BMW Championship and ended up 10th on the FedEx Cup list (with a dismal 30th place at the Tour Championship).
What I didn't know then, but learned now, is that Westwood had been very successful on the European Tour. I knew he was a Ryder Cup teammate and they had beaten us up, but I see now he had 23 wins since he joined the European Tour in 1994. His best years were 2000 and 2009 and his last win in Europe came in 2014, the Malaysian Open. He was also the number one player in the world at the end of Ocotober 2010, knocking off Tiger Woods. He stayed #1 in the world for 17 weeks.
So while it appears that I may have been late to catch the Lee Westwood fan bus, it was coming at a time when he decided to dedicate more time the PGA Tour and look towards winning a Major. Again, not really knowing that Westwood had been a professional golfer for almost 20 years already, I may have missed the perspectives and reasons why he chose to move to Florida and concentrate on playing in the US...I think I was under the impression he was newer to the Tour than he was.
Playing in 19 events in the 2013 PGA Tour season brought Westwood only 6 Top 10's , which included a T8 finish at the Masters. He also played in 13 European Tour events that included 5 top 10's. Success was not on his side in 2014, having only 2 top 10's in 18 starts, and Westwood finished 107th on the FedEx points list. Besides the 18 events in the US, Westwood continued to play European tour events, with the Malaysian Open win a part of 3 top 10's in 15 events.
The 2015 PGA Tour season started out with some great promise...he was in 3 fall events in the new "wrap around season" and went T12, T13, and T20. Venturing back over to the European Tour, Westwood carded a T9 and T5 in February and then was back for the WGC Cadillac (T12). It seemed like Westwood was primed for another strong finish at the Masters but instead he finished T46. A trip to the Indonesian Masters at the end of April resulted in a win (on the Asian Tour), and then a T9 at the WGC Match Play in May 2015 was the best finish for the rest of the season both on the PGA and European Tours.
What I learned in my research is that the summer of 2015 brought divorce and the prospect of his children moving back to Scotland. I can't claim to know what it's like to go through a divorce but I suspect it would definitely have an impact on any attempts to be a successful professional golfer. While there weren't a lot of details, by October Westwood had made the decision to move back to be closer to his children and abandon his quest to thrive on the PGA Tour in the US.
Westwood has tumbled down the OWGR since his time at the top, but the good news is that he was ranked in the Top 50 by the end of the year so he qualified for the Masters! And while he may still be rebuilding his game since his relocation back to England, I've got a feeling that a Major may still be in reach!
I'm on the fan bus, Lee Westwood!! Go get 'em!
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