Maybe we shouldn’t write off Lee Westwood’s career just yet, especially if his second round in the $3 million Maybank Championship is indicative.
The veteran Englishman returned a 10-under 62 on Friday to put himself one off the lead held by Nino Bertasio and Phachara Khongwatmai. Westwood’s looking to win his 24th European Tour event, and his first since 2014.
His last European Tour victory? The 2014 Maybank Championship.
Many European pundits see Westwood on the downward curve of his career. At 44, he seems to have been bypassed by younger, stronger Englishmen in the likes of Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Ross Fisher and others. Most don’t see him making this year’s Ryder Cup team, which would end a string of 10 consecutive appearances in the biennial match.
Westwood arrived at Saujana Golf & Country Club in Kuala Lumpur after missing two of his first three cuts of the year. However, he proved he can still play with the young guns.
“Played all right the first three weeks of the year,” he said. “I missed the first two cuts but I got in my own way a little bit mentally, and I’m not sure of the reason for that.
“Today I just freewheeled, really. I had fun out there. Until the eighth hole, my 17th, I hadn’t holed anything over five feet. Tee to green it was brilliant. One bogey, 11 birdies and in contention.”
Westwood does have an edge on many in the field, since he knows the golf course inside out.
“I won the Malaysian Open 21 years ago, and I won this tournament as well. I was a touring pro for this course so I’ve played it more than most. I know where to hit it. It’s tricky to convince yourself of some of the lines on the greens they’re that grainy, and even more so this week. This is as grainy as I’ve ever seen them.”
Don’t quit on Westwood’s career just yet. He still has wins left in him, even if the Ryder Cup might just be out of his reach.