LEE WESTWOOD’S BID to knock Tiger Woods off the top of the world golf rankings could be scuppered by a recurrence of his persistent calf injury.
Currently playing at the Dunhill Links Championship – where a top-two finish would see Westwood become the first man since Vijay Singh to knock Woods off the number one ranking – Westwood felt his injury flare up once again while playing in his first round at St Andrews.
“I felt it coming off the seventh tee,” Westwood said after continuing his round and shooting a 70 to finish tied for 47th after the first day.
“It was a really steep downslope and it’s really aching now like I’m doing too much too soon. Playing two weeks in a row was probably too much in hindsight, I should have gone back to rehab. I don’t want to get back to where it was. It improved a lot, but it’s still not right.”
Westwood had been a doubt to participate in last week’s Ryder Cup, and had not played any competitive golf for two months in the run-up to last weekend’s tournament, in which he played a starring role for Europe.
“I was playing great before the injury and I’ve not had a chance to practice. That’s frustrating in itself. I’m just not able to work hard. I was advised not to flog myself last week and although I didn’t have to play five games it was four on a hilly, heavy course.”
The Englishman had already had to withdraw from the Bridgestone Invitational – his last event before Celtic Manor – where he had faced his first chance to succeed Woods as world number one.
Ironically, had Westwood decided to forego his place in this weekend’s tournament and then skip the Portuguese Masters next week, he would automatically have overcome Woods due to the complexities of the two-year rolling cycle that decides the world rankings.
He had decided, however, that he had wanted to top the rankings on the basis of merit and not of statistical anomaly.
The Dunhill Links Championship was led in a four-way tie overnight by Holland’s Maarten Lafeber, Scotland’s Martin Laird, Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn and Ricardo Gonzales of Argentina.
Shane Lowry was best of the Irish, having shot an opening-day 69 in Carnoustie to lie on -3, in a tie for 25th.