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Last Updated: Sunday, 31 August, 2003, 21:51 GMT 22:51 UK
Westwood sees the light
By Rob Hodgetts

Lee Westwood
Lee Westwood admitted he endured some dark days as he struggled to rediscover the form that took him to the peak of Europe in 2000.

The 30-year-old from Worksop dragged himself back from a golfing abyss to clinch his first tournament win for almost three years with victory in the BMW International Open in Munich on Sunday.

And he revealed that he had come close to giving the game up completely.

"There were times when I thought about putting the clubs away and not ever getting them out again and calling it a day, but that would have been the easy thing to do," said an emotional Westwood.

"I battled it out and hopefully this is one of many rewards. I've won a little sooner than I thought I might have but it's just great to win a tournament again."

I feel like I'm sticking two fingers up to a few people now I've won a tournament
Lee Westwood

Westwood crashed from being the best player in Europe, and fourth in the world, to 215th in the world before the BMW tournament.

His last win came at the Cisco World Match Play at Wentworth in October 2000, the year he won seven times worldwide to stop Colin Montgomerie's run of seven straight Order of Merit titles.

But Westwood's decline was abrupt and once in motion he spiralled downwards through the rankings.

In 2001, he finished 52nd in Europe and last year had slumped to 72nd.

The complete lack of form coincided with the decision to rework his swing and the birth of his son Samuel, which appeared to divert his focus, and time, away from golf.

But Westwood said: "Before I took the break I felt my technique had become flawed and I was getting by on adrenalin and the knack of winning, so maybe these three years have been a blessing in disguise."

After stints with long-time coach Pete Cowen and Bob Torrance, he has been working for seven months with renowned swing guru David Leadbetter.

Lee Westwood
Westwood won by three shots in Munich
And Nick Faldo's former tutor told Westwood at the recent USPGA championship that his swing "looked as good as it ever has", despite finishing tied 94th.

Westwood's recent results had shown sporadic signs of recovery, beginning with three points out of five matches in last year's Ryder Cup triumph at The Belfry.

This year, his best results were a ninth at the European Masters, 14th at the Scottish Open and 11th at the Irish Open.

And after his three-shot victory over Alex Cejka in Germany, Westwood admitted: "I won 24 times in four years and knew I wouldn't lose the feeling of how to win.

"It's really special. The last three years have obviously been the worst of my career.

"But you find out a lot of things about yourself and people around you, those who have been there and backed you up and those who have disappeared into the background.

"Things were being written in papers and magazines about me never coming back and never winning again.

"It's hard to keep picking yourself up and putting a positive edge on it when all people are talking about is the negative and bad things.

"I feel like I'm sticking two fingers up to a few people now I've won a tournament."

Lee Westwood
"I was guilty of listening to too many people and too much advice"

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