World No. 3 Lee Westwood will defend his title in the Portugal Masters title in October, 12 months after the victory that ignited his ascent to the summit of European golf.
The Englishman finished two strokes clear of Italian Francesco Molinari and four ahead of Padraig Harrington last year to capture his first European Tour victory in more than two years (and 19th of his career), during which time he had lost three playoffs and recorded an astonishing 26 top-10 finishes. Soon thereafter, he won his 20th at the season-ending Dubai World Championship, captured the inaugural Race to Dubai and was named the 2009 European Tour Golfer of the Year.
His Oct. 14-17 return to Vilamoura will be his first appearance in stroke-play competition after his seventh Ryder Cup appearance for Europe.
“I’m really looking forward to returning to Oceanico Victoria Golf Course and defending my title,” said Westwood. “It was a great venue to finally capture another victory after two years without one. I’d had a number of near-misses in that time, so it was special to finally get my hands on a trophy.”
Westwood, who finished runner-up in both the Masters and the British Open this season, has missed all of August and September with a calf injury.
KAYMER BACK INTO TOP FIVE: Germany’s Martin Kaymer is back up to fifth in the world after his victory at the KLM Open in the Netherlands on Sunday, while American Dustin Johnson is now at a career-high 12th following his victory at the BMW Championship in Chicago.
BMW runner-up Paul Casey of England -- not chosen for Europe's Ryder Cup team, of course -- improves to seventh, while Ireland’s Padraig Harrington, who was given a wild card, falls out of the top 20 for the first time in more than four years. Harrington started 2010 in fifth spot.
Ahead of Kaymer in the top five are No. 1 Tiger Woods, No. 2 Phil Mickelson, No. 3 Lee Westwood and No. 4 Steve Stricker. After Kaymer come No. 6 Jim Furyk, No. 7 Paul Casey, No. 8 Rory McIlroy, No. 9 Luke Donald and No. 10 Matt Kuchar.
GOLFER OF THE MONTH: Martin Kaymer has won the Race to Dubai Golfer of the Month Award for August following his victory in the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.
The 25-year-old, who receives an engraved alms dish and magnum of Moet & Chandon champagne, produced a clinical performance to overcome Bubba Watson in a three-hole playoff to claim his first major title and become only the second German to win one of golf’s major prizes.
Kaymer’s victory sealed an unprecedented season in the majors for the European Tour as he followed Graeme McDowell (U.S. Open) and Louis Oosthuizen (British Open) as the third European Tour Member to win a major in the same season.
“It is always an honor to be named the European Tour Golfer of the Month, but to get the award for winning a major is even better,” said Kaymer. “It’s great news that I have won it and my brother will be pretty pleased because he was saying to me recently that winning the PGA will mean I will win the Golfer of the Month, and he was right. This is the third time that I have won the award, and it is always nice to be voted for awards like this because it is more recognition for a great achievement.”
It comes as no surprise that Kaymer secured the August award, but he did have some serious competition from Sweden’s Peter Hanson, Spain’s Miguel Angel Jiménez and Italy’s Edoardo Molinari -- a trio that used the month of August to secure their places alongside Kaymer on the European Ryder Cup team.
Kaymer joins South Africans Charl Schwartzel (January) and Ernie Els (March), the English pair of Ian Poulter (February) and Luke Donald (May), the Northern Irish duo of Rory McIlroy (May) and McDowell (June) and Oosthuizen (July) among the candidates for The Race to Dubai Golfer of the Year on The European Tour, which will be decided at the end of the season.