Abu Dhabi: Having ended last season with two imperious wins in three tournament starts, Lee Westwood — the former world No.1 and current No.2 — is relishing the prospect of carrying his scintillating form into this month's Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, which runs from January 26 to 29 at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
The Englishman, currently enjoying a winter break, triumphed in last month's inaugural Thailand Golf Championship in Bangkok only weeks after he successfully defended his Nedbank Golf Challenge title in Sun City, South Africa.
"What a way to go into my winter break — two wins in three starts including the best golf of my entire career — can't be bad and the turkey tasted extra special this Christmas," said the 38-year old, who was awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List last year.
"These triumphs featured some of the best golf I have ever played in any of my 37 worldwide wins."
With this year's Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship featuring arguably the strongest field ever assembled at a Middle East golf tournament, Westwood — whose best Abu Dhabi finish was tied-second in 2008 — will have to rekindle his end-of-year form if he is to scoop the $2.7 million (Dh4.6 million) event's Falcon Trophy.
Among the Nottingham-born power hitter's competitors are defending champion and three-time winner Martin Kaymer, world No.1 Luke Donald, three reigning Major winners in Charl Schwartzel, Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke, Abu Dhabi debutant and 14-time Major winner Tiger Woods, rising Australian star Jason Day, Korean KJ Choi and two-time Abu Dhabi champion Paul Casey.
"This will be the first time in 2012 you'll see a field of this quality — so it's the first chance to see how we are matching up in the new year," said Westwood, whose electric form in Thailand — particularly on and around the greens, an area he has worked extensively to improve — resulted in a compelling seven-shot victory over Schwartzel.
"It's always rewarding to see hard work paying off and it certainly did before winter. I'm putting better, hitting it better, managing my game well. Every aspect seems to be improving — hopefully I'll keep up this form and confidence and head into Abu Dhabi and a new season with real impetus," Westwood said.
Golf fans: Where to buy tickets
Tickets for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship are available through www.abudhabigolfchampionship.com, as well as at www.timeouttickets.com and www.itptickets.com.
Phone bookings are through the ITP toll-free hotline 800 4669, or for international visitors, +971 4 210 8943.