Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Lee Westwood marched to a convincing seven-stroke victory for his first title in two years after a flawless closing four-under-par 68 at the US$2.75 million Maybank Malaysian Open.
The Englishman completed his wire-to-wire win in style when he holed a 20-foot birdie putt on the last for an 18-under-par 270 winning total at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
Major champion Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa threatened briefly by shooting four birdies in his first seven holes but dropped shots around the turn saw his challenge fizzle as he signed for a 68, taking joint second place with Austrian Bernd Wiesberger and Ryder Cup star Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium in the event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
Indian Anirban Lahiri, a three-time winner in the region, was the best placed Asian in tied 10th place after a closing 70 while Masahiro Kawamura of Japan finished a further shot back.
Westwood, a winner here in 1997, reinforced his reputation as an Asian specialist after extending his career tally in Asia to 13 victories. The triumph came a week after the world number 36 finished seventh in the Masters Tournament.
“This win has come at an important time. I’ve started working with a new coach and Billy Foster came back on my bag at the end of last year. I’m going back to what I’ve done before because it works. It is starting to work already,” smiled Westwood, who turns 41 next week.
Westwood’s victory and solid performances in the last two weeks has given him hope of regaining his best form which saw him become world number one several years ago. “My game now has the potential to get close (to his game when he was world number one). But now I feel I’ve got a short game and I’m starting to roll in a few putts. It makes a lot of difference when you can make up-and-downs to keep the momentum going,” said Westwood, who won US$458,330 for his 41st career victory.