Seoul, May 1: England’s Lee Westwood showed why he is deserving of his world number one status when he shrugged off the challenges of closest rival Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain to win the €2.2 million (approximately US$3.2 million) Ballantine’s Championship on Sunday.
Westwood closed with a flawless five-under-par 67 for a four-day total of 12-under-par 276 to make it two wins in a row following his earlier triumph at the Indonesian Masters last week.
Jimenez signed off with a 71 to take second place on 277 while Korea’s Park Sang-hyun emerged as the leading Korean after a closing eagle on the 18th hole saw him take third place on 278 at the Blackstone Golf Club.
Dustin Johnson of the United States who was making his debut in Asia this week, closed with a 69 to take fourth place while Korea’s Hong Soon-sang and Sweden’s Alexander Noren are tied in fifth on matching 280s.
Starting the final round in equal fifth, Westwood was expecting a play-off with Jimenez after dinner conversation with the Spaniard the previous night led them to predict that would be the best way to decide the winner for this week’s contest.
“We had a nice bottle of red wine over dinner and I told Jimenez that I’ll see him in the play-off. It nearly went that way but thankfully it didn’t go to that,” said Westwood who had completed his round about an hour earlier than Jimenez.
While it did not turn out the way that Westwood had expected, it was still a nerve-racking wait for him as Jimenez only needed a birdie in any of his last three holes to force a play-off.
“I watched him play the last, from the 15th green. It was more nerve-racking watching it on the television than being out there playing, because you have a bit of control when you're out there playing,” said the world number one.
“It's the kind of situation where you don't wish ill on somebody, especially Miguel because we get on so well. But over those last three holes I wasn't cheering for him to make a birdie either. I didn't want to go into a playoff. We are all professional sportsmen and we want to win,” said Westwood who knew that he needed a top-five finish at the Ballantine’s Championship to retain his number one status.
After winning his 21st professional title at the Ballantine’s Championship this week, Westwood is now setting his sights on winning that elusive Major.
“My next goal is to win a Major Championship. It's the dream of all professional golfers to get to number one in the world rankings and I've done that. I haven't won a Major yet and that's the missing one. So that's what I’m working towards and hopefully that will be the next thing,” said Westwood.
Although Jimenez came up short against Westwood, the Spaniard knew that he lost to a deserving winner.
“I played well although it was not as good as the first two rounds, but that's the game,” said Jimenez.
“He's (Westwood) a great player. He won two weeks in a roll and he’s the number one player in the world. Pity I didn't beat him today, he beat us,” added Jimenez.
Meanwhile Park continued to show the emerging strength of the game in Korea and credited the success of Asian Tour honorary members, K.J Choi and Y.E Yang for providing them with the self-belief that they can match up against the world’s best players.
“Both Choi and Yang really made us believe that we, Koreans can succeed against the world’s best players. They’ve been our role models and have inspired us to follow their footsteps,” said Park.
The 2011 Ballantine’s Championship was once again co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and Korea PGA.
Leading final round scores
276 - Lee Westwood (ENG) 72-68-69-67
277 - Miguel Angel Jimenez (ESP) 70-67-69-71
278 - Park Sang-hyun (KOR) 67-72-70-69
279 - Dustin Johnson (USA) 70-69-71-69
280 - Alexander Noren (SWE) 70-69-67-74, Hong Soon-sang (KOR) 69-72-70-69
281 - Brett Rumford (AUS) 71-63-73-74, James Morrison (ENG) 69-69-72-71, Jbe Kruger (RSA) 73-70-69-69
282 - Kim Dae-hyun (KOR) 71-69-71-71, Kim Kyung-tae (KOR) 69-71-72-70, Mo Joong-kyung (KOR) 71-70-72-69
283 - Rhys Davies (WAL) 70-68-68-77, Richie Ramsay (SCO) 68-72-69-74, Soren Kjeldsen (DEN) 71-66-73-73, Shane Lowry (IRL) 72-70-69-72, Damien Mcgrane (IRL) 66-72-74-7, Jamie Donaldson (WAL) 72-69-71-71, Richard Mcevoy (ENG) 71-73-68-71, Robert-Jan Derksen (NED) 73-69-71-70, Matthew Zions (AUS) 76-66-71-70, Gareth Maybin (NIR) 72-70-72-69, Marcel Siem (GER) 76-68-71-68
289 - Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 73-72-73-71
290 - Siddikur (BAN) 72-71-72-75
Photo - Asian Tour
Asian Tour GolfGreedy.com