Major victory or top ranking? Westwood's choice is no-brainer

lee westwood
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Lee Westwood led the 2010 Masters after 54 holes, and will enter the 2011 Masters as one of the favorites.
Doug Ferguson
Associated Press


Published: Tuesday, December 21, 2010 | 12:44 p.m.

Given the choice between a major or being No. 1 in the world, Lee Westwood made it sound like an easy decision.

He’ll take No. 1.


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Westwood is the only player to be No. 1 without ever winning a major, although he’s only been atop the ranking for two months and at age 37, expects to have some 25 more chances. Even so, he made a compelling argument in an interview with The Sun newspaper in Britain as to which is more significant in a golfer’s career.

“Well, I’ve been world No. 1 now and I’ve never won a major so, obviously, I would like to win one,” Westwood told the British tabloid. “But I wouldn’t swap world No. 1 for a major -- no way.”

Westwood has been trying to explain for the last few months that being atop the world ranking is not related to winning a major, although more ranking points are available in the majors. He was runner-up at the Masters and British Open, which helped him rise.

“But winning a major doesn’t make you the best player in the world,” he said. “No, being the best player in the world is all about consistency. Just look at the world rankings. I have way more points than anyone else.”

Westwood said he believes that golfers get what they deserve, and he knows he has put the work into his game. So why hasn’t he won a major? It certainly wasn’t for a lack of opportunity. A 15-foot birdie putt kept him out of a playoff at the 2008 U.S. Open, and an 8-foot par putt kept him out of the Turnberry playoff in the 2009 British Open. He had the 54-hole lead at this year’s Masters.

“I could easily be sat here with three major championships right now, but the harsh fact is I’m sitting here with none,” he said. “That gets on my nerves, but it is not as if I’m failing to give myself opportunities in big events.”