Westwood retains top spot with win at Ballantine's, his second in a row

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Lee Westwood needed to finish in the top five to retain his No. 1 ranking, and his victory means he'll stay in the top spot a little longer.
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PA Sport and Associated Press

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Published: Sunday, May 01, 2011 | 12:17 p.m.

Top-ranked Lee Westwood rallied to win the Ballantine’s Championship for his second straight victory, shooting a 5-under 67 on Sunday for a one-stroke victory over Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Westwood, the English star who won the Asian Tour’s Indonesian Masters last week to regain the No. 1 spot in the world, finished at 12-under 276 at Blackstone Resort in the event sanctioned by the European Tour, Asian Tour and Korea PGA.

2011 BALLANTINE'S CHAMPIONSHIP

With four of the world's top 20 players on hand, this edition of the Ballantine's Championship features its strongest field ever.

“It’s always nice when you’re world No. 1 to show everybody why you’re in that position,” Westwood said. “I’m delighted with the way I played this week.”

The 47-year-old Jimenez, Westwood’s European Ryder Cup teammate, parred the final nine holes for a 71. Jimenez needed a birdie over the closing stretch to force a playoff, but instead had to save par from sand on the 15th and 17th before failing to get up and down from another bunker on the par-five 18th for the necessary birdie.

“I was just happy he didn’t make a birdie and make it difficult for me,” said Westwood, who finished about an hour before Jimenez. “It’s very nerve-racking when you have to sit there and somebody’s got some holes to play.”

Westwood shot a 69 in the completion of the rain-delayed third round to begin the finale three strokes behind Jimenez, Alexander Noren and Rhys Davies. Westwood birdied Nos. 14 and 15 to tie Jimenez, then pulled ahead with a birdie on the par-5 18th.

“It was an old man’s performance, really,” Westwood said. “I hung around all week, then today when I needed to do anything I just gauged my way through the field and, obviously, got my head in front on the line.”

Westwood won for the first time on the European Tour since the 2009 Dubai World Championship and matched Sam Torrance for ninth place on the tour’s victory list with 21. The 38-year-old Westwood has 35 worldwide victories.

South Korea’s Park Sang-hyun eagled the final hole for a 69 to finish third at 10 under. American Dustin Johnson was fourth at 9 under after a 69.

Noren had a 74 to tie for fifth at 8 under, while Davies shot a 77 to drop into a tie for 13th at 5 under.

Westwood needed a top-five finish to remain atop the rankings, with Germany's Martin Kaymer in line to overtake him despite not playing.

"I've won two weeks in a row before but it's still very special,” he said. “It's tough to come down off a win and get yourself refocused, but the more experience you get the easier it is to do it."

Jimenez was quick to congratulate Westwood and the latter revealed the pair had enjoyed dinner together on Saturday night.

"We had a nice bottle of red and after dinner I said 'I'll see you in the playoff tomorrow' and it nearly went that way," said Westwood, who mastered the tricky conditions in the final round to pile the pressure on the leaders.

"I wanted to try and shoot the best round of the day. I don't know if 67 is, but it feels pretty good,” he said. "Billy (Foster, his caddie) said to me on the sixth or seventh that 11 under will have a chance so that was the figure we were aiming for.

"It's a difficult course because it goes around the hills and it's difficult to pick the wind up, it swirls a lot,” he explained. "I'm pleased with the way I'm striking it. Billy said you're hitting it straight at every flag, it either comes up a few feet short or a few feet long. I gave myself a lot of chances and now and then a few go in."