Westwood adds to his Asian excursion

Lee Westwood (file photo)

For being an Englishman, Lee Westwood sure gets around Asia a lot.

Winner of 33 titles worldwide, the No. 1 golfer is looking to add to his success in Asia, having already won in Japan, Macau and Malaysia – and pad his wallet at the same time.

In April, Westwood will compete in tournaments in South Korea and Indonesia, the 37-year-old said last week.

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Westwood resigned his PGA Tour membership two years ago. He is allowed to play in three tournaments aside from the majors, the WGC events and The Players. He already has committed to play in the Honda Classic in March, he will play the Shell Houston Open to prepare for the Masters, and will defend his FedEx St. Jude Classic title in Memphis the week before the U.S. Open.

He wants to play in the Wells Fargo at Quail Hollow the week before The Players, but isn’t allowed to.

“I’d go over for The Players if I could play in the tournament the week before, but I don’t want to pitch up at The Players cold having not played for four weeks since Augusta,” Westwood said. “So I’ll play a couple of tournaments on the European Tour instead.”

--Alistair Tait

The Ballantine’s Championship, held April 28-May 1 at Seoul’s Blackstone Resort, isn’t a surprise, considering he played it in 2009, and it’s co-sanctioned with the European Tour. The US$3 million purse is enough to get anybody’s attention.

But since he’s in the neighborhood, Westwood will also headline the Indonesian Masters, a new Asian Tour event April 21-24 at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club. With a paltry purse of US$750,000, Westwood’s appearance fee may have been the deal clincher.

Appearance fees are common for marquee players whenever they compete outside the U.S. or Europe.

“Asia has always been good to me over the years as I have won several titles across the region and I hope to challenge for my first win in Indonesia,” Westwood said in a statement.

“However, I know it will not be easy as the level of competition on the Asian Tour is really strong.”

The Asian Tour was pleased with its catch.

“With Lee Westwood competing in the inaugural edition, it will rubber stamp the Indonesian Masters as a premier event on the Asian Tour and reflect the importance of the game in this vibrant nation,” said Kyi Hla Han, executive chairman of the Asian Tour.

At the Ballantine’s, Westwood won’t be the only top name in the field. Ernie Els, Y.E. Yang and Ian Poulter will also compete in Seoul.

In Abu Dhabi last week, Westwood, who finished T-64, was back in action after a long winter break.

“I’ve wintered really well. I’m not as fat as I thought I would be standing here, or sitting here,” he said with a chuckle Jan. 19 in a media session. “I hardly hit a ball for three or four weeks, really. Partly to do with the snow, lingered around for a good few weeks in Worksop and then because I went on holiday for a couple of weeks in Barbados, to Sandy Lane in Barbados. I played two rounds of golf there. I didn’t do any practice.”

With a full plate of tournaments scheduled worldwide, that might be the only long rest he’ll get for a while.

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