Westwood still No. 1 after Nedbank victory

Lee Westwood after winning the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

Lee Westwood after winning the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

SUN CITY, South Africa – Lee Westwood cemented his year-end No. 1 ranking with an eight-shot win at the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City on Sunday.

The Englishman closed with a 4-under 68, chipping in from the fringe at No. 18 for a birdie from nearly 40 yards to finish at 17-under 271 at the Gary Player Country Club.

“It was the stuff that dreams are made of, I guess,” Westwood said of the shot that nestled in the cup in front of a packed gallery.

“I didn’t want to get ahead of myself, but I knew I was playing well. It was a professional round I thought. Recently, I really felt there was a good week coming.”

The 37-year-old Westwood had led the 12-player field since Friday and was unchallenged on the final day to win his first Nedbank title in his seventh attempt, collecting $1.25 million for the victory.

Westwood started out with rounds of 68, 64 and 71, finishing with five birdies and a bogey Sunday to secure the top ranking for the remainder of 2010.

“It (the No. 1 ranking) is something that I’m still coming to terms with,” Westwood said. “But since I’ve become No. 1 I’ve finished second (HSBC Champions), third (Dubai World Championship) and first. So, I think I can cope with it.”

He collected $1.25 million for winning his second tournament of 2010 in his final event of the season.

South Africa’s Tim Clark rolled in a 7-foot putt on 18 to save par, earning a 71 that clinched second place at 9 under. He was one stroke ahead of compatriot Retief Goosen and Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez.

“I had a pretty good idea what was at stake there (with the putt on 18),” said Clark, who bogeyed his first hole of the day and never threatened a dominant Westwood despite three birdies in his back nine.

“I don’t think it would have been possible to catch Lee today,” Clark said. “There’s no question he is the world’s No. 1. It’s not just points on a sheet. I think he has that belief right now.”

Westwood’s final-round 68 was only matched by Goosen, who jumped from ninth to a share of third with Jimenez at 8 under.

The charismatic Jimenez, who delighted South African fans all week, ended with a 15-footer for birdie and a matador-like flourish with his putter.

Ernie Els and Ross Fisher were three shots back at 5 under. Els struggled with a new putter and had two bogeys and a double bogey going out, ending with a 73, his worst round of the week.

Fisher, hampered by a suspected stomach virus that also struck Louis Oosthuizen and Westwood’s caddie, Billy Foster, slumped to a 75 after being in contention Friday and Saturday.

Defending champion Robert Allenby of Australia (72) and first-round leader Padraig Harrington (75) shared seventh at 3-under 285.

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