The European Tour’s finale yesterday got the most exciting of conclusions and a delightful result.
Both the DP World Tour Championship and the Race to Dubai went down to the wire, with the same three players — Lee Westwood, Matt Fitzpatrick and Patrick Reed — battling for both the tournament and order of merit titles. Sponsors must have loved it.
And although Fitzpatrick won the former, it was Westwood’s week as the 47-year-old became the oldest man to top Europe’s money list.
It was an incredible performance from Westwood and to show the consistency that he has at his age is exemplary.
He’s such a good swinger of the club and he played beautifully all week. To make two birdies in the last three holes was exceptional.
And his par on 17, where he holed a great 15-footer down the green after coming up short and chipping over the bunker, was fantastic. That finish won him the Race to Dubai.
As European No1, he’s got an incredible chance of playing in an 11th Ryder Cup next year, even if there were no qualifying points on offer in Dubai.
It’s also huge that he has cemented his place in the world top 50 again, having been close to drifting out.
And it was extra-special for both of them to have done it all with his fiancee Helen Storey as his caddie.
Westwood the autograph hunter
I’ve been great friends with Lee for 30-odd years and have been through all of the Ryder Cups with him.
I first met him when he was an 11-year-old boy who came up to me when I was playing 5-a-side football in Scotland and asked me for my autograph. He tells me he’s still got it.
He works extremely hard in the gym and has a wonderful practice regime. He treats every shot on the range like a tournament shot.
It’s wonderful preparation for tournament situations like Sunday’s.
Westwood’s three order of merit wins have come over 20 years, almost equally spaced out. He’s had highs and lows but has always shown so much resilience.
He’s always been exceptional, is an amazing human being and I’m delighted for him.
Fitzpatrick and Hovland show Ryder Cup credentials
Fitzpatrick had gone a couple of years without winning but he put in a fantastic performance.
He may have narrowly missed out on the Race to Dubai but he won the event so couldn’t have done much more.
Flawless golf on the front nine separated Fitzpatrick from the field and he hung on beautifully, always looking in control.
He holed a bloody good putt on the last green and you could see how much it meant to him to win again.
He is another firmly in Ryder Cup contention, as is Viktor Hovland, who tied with Reed for third.
To come straight from winning last week in Mexico and perform like that was great.
The 23-year-old from Norway is some prospect and kind of like Jon Rahm, he’s that exciting.
The third Englishman in the top five, Laurie Canter, also deserves a mention.
Three times the 31-year-old had come through Q school to play on the European Tour; three times he had failed to retain his card.
But he’s done it now, having banked more prize money this season than in the rest of his career combined.
He played magnificently, has a good-looking swing and seems as fit as a butcher’s dog. This could be the turning point for him.
For Westwood, though, I think it’s time he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
It’s not all about winning majors, and this is no comment on those who have been included.
But for what he’s done for European golf and the game in general, I believe he deserves it.