WHEN Lee Westwood made his Ryder Cup debut in 1997, Seve Ballesteros was his captain and an inspiration.
Yesterday, in his ninth stint as a member of the European team, in a competition the Spaniard loved, the Englishman overhauled his hero’s points record.
Partnered with rookie Jamie Donaldson for the second day in a row, he said that it was never easy to win a Ryder Cup match but, in giving Europe the perfect start to the afternoon session by beating Jim Furyk and Matt Kuchar 2&1 in the foursomes, he increased his career haul to 23 points – 20 wins and 6 halves – to move ahead of Ballesteros.
“Obviously I’m pleased I’ve put so many European points on the board over the years but more proud that I’ve been on six winning Ryder Cup sides. Somebody’s just told me I’ve gone past Seve’s total, so that means a lot. It’s obviously quite emotional. He was special to everybody.”
The Spaniard was a massive fan of the biennial head-to-head with the Americans and amassed 22½ points in his eight appearances as a player. In his ninth appearance – his first as a captain’s pick – Westwood said leapfrogging the man who captained him in his first outing was something he could never have envisaged.
“He’s just such a legend and a Ryder Cup legend that I would never have dreamt of it. I’ve always said the Ryder Cup is not about individual points totals, which it’s not, it’s about winning the cup for Europe and winning as many points as possible. But it’s obviously very satisfying.
“I was very lucky at Valderrama. I sat in the team room looking around, and Seve is the captain and Nick Faldo is my partner, and sat over there is Bernhard Langer and there’s Ian Woosnam over there and Monty, just people I’d grown up idolising, and suddenly I was sat in a room full of my heroes, Seve being the greatest of those, because no disrespect to the others, but he’s probably the most charismatic player that there’s ever been. So it was pretty easy to play in that Ryder Cup. It was probably the most special one.”