LONDON (Reuters) - Lee Westwood believes he has gone some way towards satisfying Darren Clarke after Europe’s Ryder Cup captain told his close friend at the start of the year to play consistently well in order to be selected.
Westwood was 50th in the world rankings at the end of 2015 but has inched his way up to 43rd going into this week’s Czech Masters in Prague, the penultimate points-counting event for next month’s Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, Minnesota.
The 43-year-old Englishman first played in the biennial team event in 1997 and is hoping to represent Europe for the 10th successive time.
“I’ve had lots of conversations with Darren and he said at the start of the year, ‘show me some form’,” Westwood told www.europeantour.com.
“I’ve played pretty well over the year, second in the U.S. Masters, a few other top-10s, played well in the majors, played pretty good at the U.S. Open so I just want to try and keep playing well and be in form should I get picked for the Ryder Cup.”
Westwood is outside the top nine automatic qualifying places for the match against the United States that starts on Sept. 30 but he is sure to be in Clarke’s thoughts as one of the three wildcard choices.
The Northern Irishman handed Westwood a pick for the EurAsia Cup this year and the veteran did not disappoint, picking up three points out of three as Europe beat Asia by 18 1/2 points to 5 1/2 in Kuala Lumpur.
Europe are almost certain to have five debutants, Danny Willett, Chris Wood, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Andy Sullivan and Matt Fitzpatrick, in their side at Hazeltine and Westwood said it would be important to have some experience too.
“If you look at the balance of the team, there are a lot of rookies,” said the former world number one.
“It’s difficult if you’re playing on home soil with that many rookies but going and playing in the States is even harder. It’s a tough atmosphere to play in and it’s always nice if you’ve got a few people on the team with a bit of experience.”
Writing by Tony Jimenez; Editing by Ed Osmond