Westwood back in the swing

ONLY a handful of peoplewere watching but LeeWestwood wasn’t complaining.

Yesterday’s celebrity pro-am at the Archerfield Links, Scotland, was a non-spectator event and so provided the Englishman the perfect opportunity to test out his troublesome calf injury ahead of the Ryder Cup.

The event was hosted by Darren Clarke and cricket legend Ian Botham who were hoping to raise over €100,000 for leukaemia and breast cancer charities, causes close to both.

The final 18 holes take place today after which Westwood is confident he will be fit to face the US at Celtic Manor on Friday week.

“I’m on schedule and possibly slightly ahead of making the deadline,” he blogged last Tuesday.

“Last week’s chipping and putting has been followed by a gradual increase in the shaft length.

“I’ve reached five iron level and feel ready to progress all the way.”

Following the charity event in Scotland, Westwood will then test his fitness with a 36-hole day on Friday, “just to make sure I will be capable of a full day’s work at Celtic Manor if Captain Monty sees fit to ask me.

“It’s going to be a great week in Wales... and I’ll be there to be part of it as long as there are no unexpected setbacks.”

Whether Montgomerie will be satisfied with that remains another matter. Few appreciates Westwood’s fantastic record in the event – two years ago at Valhalla, he set a Ryder Cup record by taking his unbeaten run to 12 matches on the opening day to equal Arnold Palmer’s benchmark – more than Monty but the Englishman’s lack of competitive activity could impact on his performance.

Montgomerie has until the eve of the match to bring in another ‘wild card’ with Justin Rose admitting his willingness if required.

Meanwhile, Irish focus this week will be on Pádraig Harrington as he tees it up in the Vivendi Cup at the Golf de Joyenval in Chambourcy, Paris. This is the first staging of the event which has a pro-am format, a type of golf he has always enjoyed, especially as his partner is his seven handicap brother Fergal. Two other members of the European side, Peter Hanson and Edoardo Molinari, will also be using the event to sharpen their game before Celtic Manor.

The Irishman sounded a little chastened at the weekend when admitting he had “made a mess” of his schedule as he acknowledged that he was now under a deal of pressure to repay Montgomerie’s faith in handing him a ‘wild card’.

Harrington said: “I have had my coach Bob Torrance over for a couple of days but haven’t changed anything. I have been working away on my game and done some practice. I will taper it down going into France and use the tournament as a preparation for the following week. Hopefully by the end of France it is not a question of going to Celtic Manor looking to find something, more a case of taking what you’ve got.”

Harrington knows what to expect if things don’t go according to plan in Wales next month.

“Do I feel under more pressure going in? Absolutely,” he admitted. “When you get a pick you are under the spotlight more and you’ve got more to prove. But pressure brings a bit more adrenalin, a bit more nerves, which is the stuff you want.

“I qualified every other time. Getting a pick is different but different in a good way. It is very hard to peak a number of times every year. Especially the last time round, I’d won a couple of majors and all of a sudden, I peaked twice, and I really struggled to get back up from that. It is the opposite this year. I am hoping for the Ryder Cup to be my peak for 2010.”

Peter Lawrie and Gary Murphy are the other Irish in the €1.25m Vivendi Cup but the tournament is dwarfed by the Tour Championship, the climactic event on the US Tour.


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