Westwood not feeling wildcard pressure

2014-09-23 12:13
Lee Westwood (AFP)

Gleneagles - Lee Westwood needed a captain's wildcard pick to make his ninth European Ryder Cup squad, but he said Tuesday that he feels no extra need to justify his spot at Gleneagles.

The 41-year-old Englishman will play in his ninth consecutive Ryder Cup this week, hoping to raise the trophy for a seventh time in the biennial golf showdown against the United States.

"You don't need any extra motivation when it's a Ryder Cup," Westwood said. "You wouldn't want any extra motivation really or else you would just bubble over in a frenzy."

While a winner at the Malaysian Open in April, an inconsistent season doomed Westwood's qualifying bid, leaving it to Paul McGinley to call his name and make him, at 44th in the world, the lowest-ranked player at the Ryder Cup.

"I don't feel in any way trying to justify a pick," Westwood said. "Paul has obviously picked me for a reason. He sees a spot for me and a slot into the team where I should fit and that's why I'm here."

Westwood has seen European players become more familiar with their US rivals over his Cup tenure, but says that Europeans living and playing more in America has not dimmed the passions raised by the showdown.

"I think it's still us and them. I don't think it has changed much," said Westwood. "There's still the intensity and will to win. The way we all come together for the bigger events and it's more regular doesn't detract from the fact the Europeans want to show the Americans how good we are at golf."

Westwood dismissed the American notion of pushing Europeans as favourites because they boast four of the world's six top players, including number one Rory McIlroy.

"I know the Americans are trying to play the underdog role this week but I don't see that really working," Westwood said. "I don't think there are underdogs and favourites in this. It's just a case of who really holes the putts at the right time, gets the momentum and clings onto that momentum and runs with it as far as possible."

That's what Europe did in 2012 at Medinah with a record last-day rally to keep the Cup. In the past nine Ryder Cups, five were 14 1/2- 13 1/2 nailbiters and four of those went to Europe.

"We played the last hole probably better over the last few years and that's probably why we have been so successful, because it's so close it generally comes down to that," Westwood said.

"It will be close. I don't look at the odds this week. It's down to who makes the putts at the right times and gets that momentum. Momentum is the important thing this week, especially in match play."

Westwood enjoyed seeing Rickie Fowler's haircut with "USA" lettering shaved over his right ear.

"I've seen it. I've touched it. I gave it a stroke yesterday on the range," Westwood said.

"I find it quite amusing. It's the sort of thing a 25-year-old lad that's right behind his team does I suppose. That's the kind of character he is and fair to him. Suits him I think. Looks good."

But it's not so good that Westwood is ready to emulate Fowler's example.

"I know I've got a big head," Westwood said.

"But I don't know if it's big enough to fit 'Europe' on it."

Read more on:    ryder cup  |  lee westwood  |  golf

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