Westwood scoops writers' trophy

Lee Westwood has held off the challenge of the European Solheim Cup team to win the Golf Writers' Trophy for 2000.

In what developed as a straight fight between the two - only two other first-place votes were cast by members of the Association of Golf Writers in their annual poll - Westwood emerged as a clear winner following a season in which he took the European number one crown held by Colin Montgomerie for the previous seven years.

Although Montgomerie took the award only once during his long reign, Westwood has now captured it for the second time in three years. Victories in America and Japan helped him to the trophy in 1998.

"I'm very proud to have won again," said the 27-year-old from Worksop, currently on a two-month break from the game. "It rounds off my season wonderfully and I will be doing my best to retain it.

"The achievement of the Solheim Cup side should be recognised as well, though. Beating the Americans has helped to put women's golf back on the map."

From the depths of despair at the Benson and Hedges International Open at The Belfry in May Westwood went to Hamburg the very next week and came from two behind Tiger Woods on the final day to win the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open TPC of Europe by three with a closing 64.

He then added the Compaq European Grand Prix at Slaley Hall, the Smurfit European Open at the K Club near Dublin, the Volvo Scandinavian Masters and the Belgacom Open.

Still he came to the American Express world championship at Valderrama, final event of the Order of Merit, trailing his close friend Darren Clarke.

But a brilliant last round 67 gave him second place in the tournament - ahead of Woods again - and top spot on the money list.

Westwood also won in South Africa at the start of the year and in October took Montgomerie's Cisco World Match Play title, beating him at the second extra hole of the final, to complete a year of outstanding success, spoilt only by his failure to get into contention for a major. He hopes to put that right in 2001.

He becomes only the seventh player to win the Golf Writers' Trophy more than once, following Tony Jacklin in 1969 and 1970 (plus twice as European Ryder Cup captain), Peter Oosterhuis in 1973 and 74, Seve Ballesteros in 1979, 84 and 91, Sandy Lyle in 1980 and 88, Nick Faldo in 1983 and 90 and Bernhard Langer in 1981 and 1993.

Westwood's first appearance of this year is his defence of the Dimension Data Pro-am in South Africa - he partners his father - on February 1-4.

His defence of the Order of Merit does not begin until the Dubai Desert Classic a month later, when Woods will again be among the opposition.

The Solheim Cup team, under the captaincy of Dale Reid, pulled off only their second victory against the United States, winning a rain-soaked, but gripping match at Loch Lomond.

They received the Golf Writers' Trophy for their previous win under Mickey Walker at Dalmahoy in 1992 and two members of the side then and again in 2000, Laura Davies and Alison Nicholas, have taken the award individually in between.

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