New for 2023: Callaway launches Paradym Drivers
Explore 33,000+ golf courses in 180 countries.
Follow the latest news and trends in golf.
Connect with like-minded golfers.
Find everything you need for your golf equipment and gear needs.
Travel, golf resorts, lifestyle, gear, tour highlights and technology.
New for 2023: Callaway launches Paradym Drivers
‘Full Swing’ – What to expect from Netflix’s golf series
Callaway Paradym Fairway Woods, Hybrids & Irons
Best courses for golfers visiting Sydney
New golf rules for 2023
Record-breaking LPGA season tees off
Ahead of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, we spoke to reigning champion and Race to Dubai winner Lee Westwood about his hopes to retain the title.
I feel good. I came out early to the Middle East to do some pre-season. Can’t do anything at home at the moment because the golf courses are closed, and the weather is no good. I normally come down early, so I did that and down at The Creek in Dubai they gave us courtesy of the course there. My game feels in good shape, I don’t feel like I’ve had much of an off-season. The year finished so late last year and we’ve started early this year. I feel in good shape and driving the ball well and putting feels good. I was saying to Helen this morning that I’ve done everything, I’m getting bored and I wish it was Thursday.
It’s always good coming back to a tournament and a venue where you’ve won before. You have that little bit of confidence. I played the back nine today. I was walking up on to that 18th green and the last time I was there was when I was winning the tournament last year. It’s always a confidence booster when you come back to somewhere where you’ve won, you’re familiar with and feel like you can score well. Other than the win last year, I’ve had some good performances here. It’s a golf course that sets up well for me.
There are a few people who won a few points before it was halted last year. Pádraig has taken the decision to change the points system. More like a bonus system, the closer you get to The Ryder Cup the more points you play for. It makes complete sense that you have players there that are on form. Someone who was playing well two years ago isn’t necessarily playing well now. You want your strongest and best team, a team on form, when you play the Americans in The Ryder Cup. We’re playing for a lot of points these first few weeks but as the year goes on, they double. So you need to play consistently well through the year.
I’ve made my schedule for the year now, the three events here then I’ll be going off to the States to play the WGC, Arnold Palmer, The Players, Honda, Match Play, week off, Masters. That’s a long run – six tournaments in seven weeks. More than I would normally but there’s a lot of World Ranking points to play for this time of year in Florida and up to the Masters. That’s the main reason for that. Then I’ll have a mid-season break, get going at the British Masters at The Belfry and then the PGA Championship. It won’t be such a long run of tournaments after that but I’ll be giving myself more breaks through there.
Not really. Being Top 50 in the World I’d planned to play a good number of events over there. With travel as unpredictable as it is and things going the way they are I wanted to get over to America and base myself over there for a couple of months. It makes sense not to try and get on airplanes too much and travel from one country to another if you can base yourself in one spot, that makes complete sense. The run is nothing to do with The Ryder Cup, the schedule I penned out would have been the schedule were it a non-Ryder Cup year.
HSBC are great sponsors, this is their first event back since the start of Covid. They’ve got a great field together. Rory’s here, JT, Tommy Fleetwood, Ian Poulter, people like that. It’s a real high-quality field and a good amount of World Ranking points. It’s a big tournament to start the year with.
I don’t know. I have a very good record in the desert. I putt on these greens well. I’m good when it gets warm. Who knows? I play good pretty much everywhere. One thing the desert does reward is straight hitting and solid striking. The wind picks up occasionally here so you have to be a good ball striker. There’s no room, especially the course we play, they aren’t that wide. Desert courses in the United States you can get away with a bit more. But the ones we play you have to be straighter and there’s a premium on driving the ball straight.
Just the driver I put in play at the DP World Tour Championship, the Ping G425 which has given me another ten-15 yards which is amazing at my age. The stats from that tournament, I was fifth on driving distances which is higher than I’ve been in a long, long time. So it’s a real boost for me that I’m getting it out there such a long way.
I had three weeks off after Dubai where I had a bit of a rest. I came out here and brought Steve McGregor with me, so we’ve been doing a lot of stretching and mobilisation. I still feel it a little bit, I still need to work on it. I’m 47, it is what it is, it’s probably never going to be perfect, but it’s manageable at the moment. It’s not stopping me going flat out at the moment.
I can pencil in tournaments through being in the Top 50 in the World that I might not have been pencilling in before. The WGC in Florida and the following week the Arnold Palmer and The Players, I’ve entered them. The Masters, U.S. Open, PGA Championship, I was already in The Open from last year. There’s a few other WGCs. With solidifying my spot in the Top 50, I’ve been able to make a bit more of a plan with a few tournaments more available to me and it has been easier to put together a schedule this year than maybe it has been in the past.