Sunshine and shorts equal no rust for Westwood

Tue Jan 29, 2013 11:21am EST
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DUBAI (Reuters) - Lee Westwood has never felt so well prepared for the start of a new season after having swapped the snow of Britain for the sunshine of Florida, the world number eight said on Tuesday.

The European Ryder Cup stalwart, who has taken up membership of the U.S. PGA Tour this year, makes his first competitive outing of 2013 at this week's $2.5 million Dubai Desert Classic.

"I played a lot more this winter than I would normally play and there's no rust," Westwood told reporters. "The main reason for moving to Florida was to get more games of golf as I wouldn't play normally when I'm at home because of the weather.

"Last week I had shorts on and was out playing with (world number three) Luke Donald. Living in England I've always finished the year, gone home, packed the clubs away and came back out trying to catch everyone else.

"My short game is sharper from being out there especially my putting," added Westwood.

The 39-year-old Englishman has a proud record at the Dubai Classic, having been runner-up in 1999, 2010 and 2012 and amassed a total of seven top-10 finishes, but he has yet to chalk up a victory in 19 appearances in the event.

"I should have won when I was up against Miguel (Angel Jimenez) in a playoff in 2010. Then last year I had to birdie the last to force a playoff with Rafa (Cabrera-Bello) and missed it so I feel like I've let a couple slip," said Westwood.

"It's certainly one I would like to win. Hopefully this week I'll play as well as I've played the last few years and have a chance again and finish it off."

Westwood said the cream normally rises to the top at the Emirates Golf Club.   Continued...

Lee Westwood of England plays a shot out of the bunker on the 14th hole during the final of the 2012 Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City, in this file photo talen December 2, 2012. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko