Lee Westwood resumes bid for record-equalling 11th Ryder Cup appearance

Lee Westwood believes the European Ryder Cup team is still in its “infancy” as he resumes his bid to qualify for a record-equalling 11th appearance in the event.

Westwood’s victory in last year’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship helped him occupy one of the automatic places in the team before the qualifying race was suspended as golf shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With the Ryder Cup then delayed until September 2021, the race was further postponed until January 1 and the European Points List resumes this week in Abu Dhabi.

However, all points earned between January 1 and May 9 will be multiplied by 1.5 and those earned from May 10 until the end of qualifying at the BMW PGA Championship on September 12 will be doubled.

The top four players from the European Points List and the five leading players from the World Points List will qualify automatically, with Europe captain Padraig Harrington then announcing his three wild cards for the contest at Whistling Straits.

“I’ve not had a look at the make-up of the team,” said European number one Westwood, who would equal the record of Sir Nick Faldo if he makes the team for the 11th time.

“There’s not really any point, it’s still in its infancy when you look at how weighted the points system is. I know I’m in the team at the moment, I haven’t really looked at who is filling the other spots.

Lee Westwood
Lee Westwood

“The usual suspects, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, people like that will be filling spots. It’s always the same, you get a few people there you don’t expect, a few veterans and experienced players.

“I’m sure come the final event there will be a good balance to the European team as there always is. That’s what the captain’s picks are there for, to bring experience if you need it and if you have a lot of that you can use picks for people that maybe haven’t played before.”

The changes to the points system were approved late last year and Westwood, who is favourite to succeed Harrington as captain for the 2023 contest in Italy, added: “It makes complete sense that you have players there that are on form.

“Someone who was playing well two years ago isn’t necessarily playing well now. You want your strongest and best team, a team on form, when you play the Americans in the Ryder Cup.

“We’re playing for a lot of points these first few weeks but as the year goes on, they double. So you need to play consistently well through the year.”

2️⃣5️⃣0️⃣ DAYS TO GO! pic.twitter.com/5dvLswVCUT

— Ryder Cup Europe (@RyderCupEurope) January 17, 2021

To that end, Westwood has a busy start to the year with the 47-year-old set to play all three of the European Tour’s events in the Middle East and then six tournaments in seven weeks in the United States, up to and including the Masters.

“Being top 50 in the world I’d planned to play a good number of events over there,” Westwood added. “With travel as unpredictable as it is and things going the way they are I wanted to get over to America and base myself over there for a couple of months.

“It makes sense not to try and get on airplanes too much and travel from one country to another. If you can base yourself in one spot, that makes complete sense.”