James Lawton: New No 1 Lee Westwood faces hardest test
There is no way to exaggerate the strength of character Lee Westwood has displayed on the way to his No 1 world ranking.
He gave a glimpse of his intentions a few years ago on a flight to the US Masters. He said that he had enough time to change the view of him widely shared in golf... and by himself in some of his darker moments. It was of a hugely gifted golfer who settled too easily for a life of ease and financial security; a man who saw his talent as the vehicle for such rewards rather than the hard business of proving himself a great rather than a merely gifted golfer.
You noted his comments – along with his scrupulous avoidance of fattening items on the airline menu – and wondered if this was indeed a man who had been changed on his road to Damascus.
Lee Westwood has been as good as his word. Now he has a few years to battle with the truth that an earlier British No 1, the great Sir Nick Faldo, engaged so brilliantly. Faldo said that the hardest trick was not in getting to be the best in the world but remaining so.
It is a battle for which Westwood has proved worthy. Certainly he deserves a measure of success in this last challenge – and maybe a major or two.