Lee Westwood has ended Tiger Woods’ 623 week reign as World Number One – a title held by Woods for longer than any other player since the rankings started in 1986. Since that time only 13 players have been crowned World Number One. Celebrations are jubilant and strong support has flooded in from the likes of Colin Montgomerie and Greg Norman, but in some quarters the hushed questions about the lack of a Major win have been doing the rounds – Lee has not yet won a Major title but he is not the first golfer to be in this position. Supporters such as Greg dispute the questions, “It doesn’t make any difference. He’s been a consistent performer. It’s a great change and it’s a change for global golf.” Lee was second in this year’s Masters and Open championships and third in the USA Open and US PGA Championship, with 32 professional wins under his belt over the course of his career. Victorious Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie also agreed that Lee is fully-deserving and is aware of the pressures that will now fall on Lee’s shoulders, “Once you are number one you want to stay there, and you’ve got to improve because the standard behind you is improving.”
Lee heard the news in quite a surreal moment at the supermarket, “I’d been sent to the supermarket to buy some mashed potatoes and something else when my caddie rang me to tell me Martin Kaymer wasn’t playing very well and I was about to be World Number One.” One of those supermarket-moments never to be forgotten!
Former European Ryder Cup Captain Sam Torrance - who led his team to victory in 2002 – knows only too well the demands and pressures that come at such a high level in a globally scrutinised sport. Speaker Sam played a round of golf with Colin prior to the tournament this year to give him some counsel about the best way to lead a team at such a challenging time. Sam relies on a number of leadership strategies such as sending out his strongest players at the beginning and being critically aware of who works best together on the course – he believes most of the leadership is done in the first two days of the tournament when he is selecting the pairings. Sam also discusses the importance of flexibility in leadership, “The best captains are those who are on their toes.”
Golf demands a series of talents both on and off the course and the serious nature of the sport can be intense but fans such as Willie Thorne and Tim Brooke-Taylor and commentator Peter Alliss also like to focus on the humourous side. Peter – otherwise known as “the voice of golf” - is currently busy with his books and course design as well as his tours throughout the UK right through till January 2011. ‘An Evening with Alliss’ has proven very popular and features story-telling delights and anecdotes from both the past and present. Peter will also be paying very close attention to Lee Westwood’s path in the coming months. Hopefully Lee will be able to take a few moments to enjoy his successes and recognition so far, before facing the challenges and pressures that come with being at the top of the game.