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Page last updated at 17:33 GMT, Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Lee Westwood pins Dubai hopes on new driver

Lee Westwood
Westwood made his Tour debut in 1994 and won his first title in 1996

European number one Lee Westwood hopes to put equipment problems behind him at the Dubai Desert Classic on Thursday.

He missed the cut in his first event of the year with new clubs and the face of his driver cracked in Doha last week.

"I've been inundated with drivers over the last few days," he said. "We're gradually getting it sorted, I've got three or four I can choose from."

Rory McIlroy returns to the scene of his maiden Tour title, with Martin Kaymer and Paul Casey also in action.

With Dubai-based Henrik Stenson in the field, five of the world's top-10 will be competing this week, and former Order of Merit winner Robert Karlsson, the world number 17, is another leading player looking for the top prize of almost 300,000 euros.

Westwood is now happy with his new irons, which he was forced to change following the new rules banning U-shaped grooves on wedges.

The driver is his current problem following last week's unfortunate accident at the Qatar Masters, which saw him only card rounds of 70 in both of the two weekend rounds and eventually finish in a share of third.


Regarding the choice of a new club he said: "I'll just pick the best and then I will have two or three back ups. I think around any golf course, long, straight driving is an asset and that is one of my strongest weapons.

"But I feel like my short game has nearly clicked into place where it was last year and my irons feel good. I feel distance control is very good with this new set of irons.

"I have also had the wedges tested from last year and they passed the groove test so I am using the same wedges as last year so the distance control shouldn't be too much of an issue."

Meanwhile, the legendary Tom Watson, runner-up in last year's Open Championship, also makes his first appearance at a regular European Tour event since the 1993 German Masters.

The 60-year-old has made a fine start to the year with victory in the first event on the Champions Tour in Hawaii after partnering Jack Nicklaus to win a charity skins game.

The five-time Open champion played down his chances, however, and said: "I had home advantage at the Open at Turnberry and I'm at a disadvantage this week as I'm not on the right time and I'm playing a brand new course."

Fellow Americans Mark O'Meara, the 2004 winner, and former USPGA Champion Shaun Micheel are also in the line-up.

The 21st anniversary of the tournament sees six former major champions and 94 winners of European Tour events taking part.

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see also
Woods must show humility - Watson
03 Feb 10 |  Golf
Swede Karlsson claims Qatar win
31 Jan 10 |  Golf
Mickelson rule-bending - Westwood
31 Jan 10 |  Golf
Crane claims win at Torrey Pines
31 Jan 10 |  Golf
Kaymer hangs on for Abu Dhabi win
24 Jan 10 |  Golf
Westwood opts for change of clubs
27 Jan 10 |  Golf
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf

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