Westwood: Tiger’s absence won’t devalue Chevron winner

EUROPEAN number one Lee Westwood insists victory at this week’s Chevron World Challenge would still be special, even without the presence of tournament host Tiger Woods.

However, European number one Westwood believes success at the Sherwood Country Club remains meaningful.

“I think there will be a lot of disappointed people this week with Tiger’s foundation being closely connected to this event as well,” Westwood said.

“I think Tiger himself will be disappointed he’s not here this week. I’m sure he’d like to be supporting the event.

“Any event with Tiger Woods in the field, everybody looks at it as wanting to win. It means that little bit more when he’s playing. But what can you do? You can only play against the field that is put in front of you.

“Tournament wins are very hard to come by now, no matter who’s playing, so to win this week would still be very, very special.”

To say Westwood is on a roll at the moment is something of an understatement. Victory at the Portugal Masters in October was followed by his win at the inaugural Dubai World Championship, which saw him overtake Rory McIlroy to land the Race To Dubai and jump to number four in the world rankings.

“I’ve obviously had a very good year, winning the money list in Europe,” Westwood said. “I didn’t start off that quickly, although over here I felt like I played well in Houston and I felt like I played well at The Masters.

“I finished just about as dodgy as you can finish at Augusta, dropping seven shots in the last four holes to go from looking like maybe a top-10 finish to nowhere.

“At the US Open I played okay, got it together the week of France just after that and finished second there to Martin Kaymer in a play-off.

“I really kicked on from that, finishing top 10 nearly every week and managed to win two towards the end of the year in Portugal and obviously Dubai, which was very under the spotlight and meant so much.”

Westwood is one of six Europeans in the select 18-man field alongside fellow Englishmen Paul Casey and Ian Poulter, Ireland’s Padraig Harrington, Germany’s Kaymer and Woods’ last-minute replacement Graeme McDowell.

Camilo Villegas and Mike Weir also add to the international flavour alongside three of the four current major champions, Stewart Cink, Lucas Glover and Y E Yang. Also teeing off is Justin Leonard, who comes in as a replacement for 2008 champion Vijay Singh, the Fijian having been ruled out with a knee injury.

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