GLENEAGLES Scotland (Reuters) - Lee Westwood was overcome with emotion after joining the Ryder Cup greats on Saturday and at the same time helping Europe claim a commanding 10-6 lead over the United States On Saturday.
The 41-year-old moved alongside Arnold Palmer in the all-time scoring list on 23 points with only Nick Faldo (25), Bernhard Langer (24), Billy Casper (23 1/2) and Colin Montgomerie (23 1/2) ahead of them.
Westwood, who is appearing in the biennial team event for the ninth successive time, was particularly proud to surpass the late Seve Ballesteros’s tally of 22 1/2 points.
“To move above Seve is something I guess you just don’t ever imagine doing,” the tearful Englishman told reporters after he and Welsh rookie Jamie Donaldson beat Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar 2 & 1 in the afternoon foursomes.
“He’s such a legend. I’ve always said the Ryder Cup is not about individual points totals, it’s about winning the cup for Europe, but to be among names like that is obviously very satisfying.”
Ballesteros was the skipper when Westwood made his Ryder Cup debut at Valderrama, Spain in 1997.
“l think he captained like he played, very flamboyant, very unpredictable,” said the former world number one who has had a lean season and only earned a place in Europe’s team this year as a wildcard selection.
”You just remember him wanting to do everything himself. Basically, he would grab the club out of your hand and want to play the shot, that was his passion for the game and passion for the Ryder Cup.
”I was very lucky at Valderrama,“ added Westwood. ”I sat in the team room looking around and Seve was the captain, Nick Faldo was my partner, Bernhard Langer was in there, Ian Woosnam, Montgomerie and Jose Maria Olazabal.
“They were people I’d grown up idolizing and suddenly I was 23 or 24 and sat in a room with my heroes. Seve was the greatest because without no disrespect to the others he’s probably the most charismatic player there’s ever been.”
McGinley, who has been completely vindicated in picking Westwood as a wildcard, paid tribute to the Englishman after he and Donaldson won their second consecutive foursomes match of the week.
”We have been very lucky to have some wonderful partnerships,“ said the Irishman. ”We have a partnership in Jamie and Lee that has been very strong and one in Victor (Dubuisson) and Graeme (McDowell).
”I‘m very fortunate as a captain to have two guys in Lee and Graeme to play that senior role. It’s a very, very difficult thing to do in a Ryder Cup and not many players in history have ever done it.
”We have all seen with Lee what he’s done in the past, with Nicolas Colsaerts, in particular, when he had 10 birdies in his first match two years ago with Lee on his shoulder.
“That’s no coincidence. Lee was very much part of that and one of the reasons he was a pick here.”
Editing by Ed Osmond