BBC Home > BBC Sport > Golf

Ryder Cup heroes eye Dunhill Links Championship test

6 October 10 12:24 GMT

Lee Westwood will join a host of Ryder Cup stars in action on Thursday at the Dunhill Links Championship as he bids to become the new world number one.

Westwood, on the back of helping Europe to Ryder Cup glory on Monday, needs a top-two finish to usurp American Tiger Woods at the top of the rankings.

Nine members of the European team that appeared at Celtic Manor will play.

Europe captain Colin Montgomerie and two of his assistants, Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley, also take part.

In the pro-am format, Montgomerie is playing with his brother Douglas and Ryder Cup hero Graeme McDowell, while Italian brothers Edoardo and Francesco Molinari play in the same fourball alongside amateur partner Gianfranco Zola, the former West Ham manager and Chelsea striker.

Padraig Harrington and Ross Fisher will resume the successful partnership they forged in Wales over the weekend, while Westwood plays alongside Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy and has tournament chairman Johann Rupert as his partner.

And should the Westwood succeed in becoming Europe's first number-one ranked golfer since Nick Faldo in 1994, it would represent a remarkable turnaround for the Worksop golfer, who was fourth in the rankings nine years ago but then slumped outside the top 250 and feared there might be no way back.

Westwood reached his nadir with rounds of 81 and 79 for 136th place in the 2003 Portuguese Open, and he said: "If somebody had said then that I was going to have a chance to go to number one I would have treated it with a fair amount of scepticism.

"But golf is a strange thing. Why not? I went from fourth to 250th, why not be able to go the other way?

"I'm quite a positive thinker, but I'm obviously in a better position than I would have ever dreamt back there."

The 37-year-old, though, admits it will be a tough ask to re-focus this week following the high of events at Celtic Manor.

Asked to recount what the Ryder Cup celebrations were like, he said: "I wish I could remember.

"Mentally it's quite hard to refocus after such a big week," he added. "Physically it's very demanding, but I suppose I was slightly helped out by the fact that it was drawn out over four days and it was only four rounds (rather than the usual five)."

But Westwood insisted it never crossed his mind to skip the event in Scotland, despite the fact a fortnight off - he defends the Portugal Masters next week - would have seen him automatically dethrone Woods.

"That's not me," he stated. "That's not the way I want to do it. I want to get to world number one by playing the way I have for the last two years and proving I'm the best."

The only members of the European side not involved in the £3m event are Ian Poulter, Luke Donald and Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Kingsbarn will play host to the first day's play, with Carnoustie and St Andrews the other two courses being used again, with Sunday's final round taking place at the latter.

The event looks set attract big crowds as supporters take the opportunity to hail their European Ryder Cup heroes, following Sunday's dramatic 14½-13½ win over the United States.

They will not catch a glimpse of Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, however, after the South African was forced to withdraw with an ankle injury.

It is the first time since his debut in 2003 that the 27-year-old has missed the Dunhill Championship.

Share this

Related BBC sites

*