England’s Lee Westwood is thriving in the UAE. Image Credit: AP

Dubai: Lee Westwood, the winner of last week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, is looking to keep the celebrations going as he hops over to Dubai for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, which begins on Thursday at Emirates Golf Club.

The Englishman rocketed to the top of the Race To Dubai rankings with his triumph on Abu Dhabi Golf Course on Sunday, winning by two strokes from Bernd Weisberger, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Victor Perez, and he is not planning on taking his foot of the gas now he has rediscovered that winning feeling.

Westwood has 44 titles since turning professional back in 1993 but endured a barren spell of four-and-a-half years until he claimed the Nedbank Golf Challenge in 2018. With another trophy in the cabinet thanks to his confidence-oozing performance last week, the Ryder Cup hero has a spring back in his step as he turns his attentions to the Classic.

“I think the more you win, the more you get used to getting back to being on an even keel,” he said. “A lot of people, if they are won early in their career, they struggle to bring themselves back again, but I’ve won a lot of tournaments and I’ve won weeks back-to-back.

“Obviously over the years, I’ve had to really kind of evaluate everything, take it all in, process it, if you call it that — I hate that term — and then get ready for the following week.

“Yesterday I came up to Dubai, hit a few balls, but being here, letting people congratulate me, kind of being around, being present and getting that out of the way, let’s me focus on this week’s tournament quicker.”

Westwood also knows his body is not getting any younger and he makes sure he looks after it as the joints begin to creak a little more at the age of 46.

“Over the years, I’ve worked out a lot and I’m very fortunate to play practice rounds with people like Greg Norman and Nick Price, Nick Faldo in the early years and Gary Player and just obviously impressed upon me working out.” he said. “I don’t so much need to be skinny, but I’ve always concentrated on maintaining the areas of my body that take a battering, knees, back, shoulders, I’ve done a lot of exercise over the years on them to try and prevent injury, really, rather than getting an injury and then having to fix it. I’ve only really been out once and that was when I tore a calf muscle, basically.

“I was just a strong lad growing up and pretty fit. Then I started playing golf at 14. I do sometimes worry about these kids who start playing golf at the age of five now, because golf, you’re bending over, you curve your spine that way, you rotate, as well. It’s not the ideal movement for a six- or seven-year-old kid. Mentally, you’re not ready for golf at that kind of age. It’s a pretty draining sport mentally, and certainly look at my son, if he’d taken it up at a young age, he wouldn’t have enjoyed the game as much as he’s enjoying it now. He just started at 13, 14 years of age, which I did.”

Looking ahead to this week’s work, Westwood has a fair idea of what he needs to do to be successful once more.

“There are a lot of hard holes again this week,” he said. “I’ve got to hit the fairway. I mean, I haven’t been out there yet but I like the way everybody is talking about it. They have added a little bit of length. It’s just a golf course that I’ve always enjoyed playing. Whenever I’ve come out here on holiday, I’ve come here and I’ve always enjoyed playing this golf course. Obviously you look the results, you’d say it suits me.”