Lee Westwood returns to form with seven-stroke win
Play was held up for nearly four hours yesterday due to the threat of lightning at Kuala Lumpur G&CC but Westwood, who had seen a four-shot lead cut to one by Andy Sullivan in Saturday’s third round, responded with a closing 68 to finish on 18 under par.
His nearest challengers trailed in on 11 under as Sullivan, the former Walker Cup player seeking a first European Tour win, plummeted down the field with a six-over-par 78.
Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger shot 67, South African Louis Oosthuizen 68 and Westwood’s Ryder Cup colleague Nicolas Colsaerts 70 to progress to the head of the chasing pack.
Westwood’s fellow Englishman Danny Willett double-bogeyed the last to drop to ten under alongside Rikard Karlberg and Julien Quesne.
Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal, who made headlines earlier in the week when he jumped into a lake to avoid a swarm of hornets, shot 67 and finished in a share of ninth place with Thomas Pieters on nine under.
Westwood, who claimed his 13th win on Asian soil with this victory, believes changes he has made both on and off the course have helped him to improve.
“I started working with a new coach a few weeks ago, Mike Walker, and Billy Foster came back on the bag at the end of last year, so I was going back to what I had done before because it had worked,” said Westwood.
“It’s started to work already – the last couple of weeks I’ve played well in Houston and at the Masters last week and this week I’ve obviously played very well.
“It’s a golf course that suits my game; it’s very tight in certain areas. I played well, I putted well, and the short game is good.”
Westwood started the day one stroke ahead of Sullivan but moved into a commanding four-shot lead before the weather intervened. When play finally resumed, Westwood did not loosen his grip at the top as he moved six clear with a birdie at the 13th before carding four straight pars with a 15-foot putt on the last securing his fourth birdie of the day.
When asked if he is approaching his best form, the 40-year-old added: “It’s got the potential, although now I feel like I’ve got a short game and starting to roll a few putts in.
“It makes a hell of a difference if you can get up-and-down if you miss a few greens, and keeps the momentum going.”
Sullivan saw his hopes of victory sink when he found the water hazard on the second hole and carded a triple bogey seven.
The 27-year-old fought back with three successive birdies from the fourth hole but dropped another stroke on the seventh after finding the trees.
After play restarted, Sullivan again hit the water on the 12th to drop another shot with a double bogey 14th and dropped shots on the 15th and last drawing a poor round to a close to take a share of 13th place.
In contrast, Westwood’s 68 was flawless, with the seven-shot gap to Colsaerts, Oosthuizen and Wiesberger the largest of his 23 European Tour titles.
Scott Jamieson finished as leading Scot, though a closing 75 for a four-under-par total and a share of 29th spot wasn’t what he’d have been looking for on the final day.
Consistent cut-maker David Drysdale (72) finished in a share of 47th alongside Marc Warren (70) on one-over while Peter Whiteford and Craig Lee were joint 60th on four-over after both signed off with 75s.