Westwood eyes successful title defence at CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters

Jakarta: World number three Lee Westwood hopes to translate his impressive form into a successful title defence at the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters starting Thursday.

Westwood’s victory last year pushed him back to the world number one position albeit for a brief time and he hopes to repeat his winning performance at the US$750,000 Asian Tour event staged at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club.

Westwood, who finished tied third at the Masters two weeks ago and has three other top-five finishes in the United States and Dubai, believes he will be in for a tough title defence.

“It is always special to come back here. It is nice to come back and try to defend but I don’t think it will be easy. It is tough to win one and it is even tougher to defend,” said Westwood, who won four titles last year.

“I mastered the course last year and had the game plan right. All the players playing here wouldn’t be in this tournament if they weren’t capable of winning. No matter where you play in the world now it is difficult to win,” he added.

A victory this week will set him up nicely of fulfilling his goals of returning to the world number one position and contending for the remaining three Major tournaments.

“I’m not far off from number one. Obviously, Luke (Donald) and Rory (McIlroy) are two good players but I feel like I’m a good player and can play as well as them if not better. That’s obviously one of the goals of the year but the main goal is to play well in the remaining three Major championships,” said the Englishman.

Three-time Asian Tour number one Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand will also feature in the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters  with a total of 40 Asian Tour winners.

Thongchai will have to battle fatigue in hopes of going one spot higher than his second place finish last year.

“I had a bit of headache earlier this morning and I think it is because of the weather. I’m feeling quite tired from the heat so I’ll need to get a lot of rest tonight and hopefully be ready for the first round,” said Thongchai, who has a record of 13 Asian Tour titles.

“I feel my putting is better now and I’m quite confident of my chances. I changed to a belly putter recently and it seems to be working for me. I need to stay patient and you never know, I might have a chance of winning,” added the Thai.

Michael Campbell of New Zealand is delighted to return to Asia and will rely on his old swing technique in hopes that he will find the form which won him the 2005 US Open championship.

“I’ve got fond memories in Asia and I played here a lot as an amateur and professional. I always love coming here. My game hasn’t been great in the last couple of years but I hope I can change that soon.

“I had a pretty rough couple of years but I’m going back to my old swing thoughts because I changed too much of my game previously. We all had some good and bad rounds. As I said before, it all comes down to confidence. You can go out there and shoot one good round and it sets you up for the week,” said Campbell.

Ian Woosnam, the 1991 Masters champion and holder of 28 titles in Europe, hopes to roll back the years and overcome the challenging Royale Jakarta Golf Club.

“The course is playing very long and I need to get some distance. Over the years, as I get older, the courses are getting longer and I’m hitting it shorter! 19-under was a terrific winning score and I expect him (Westwood) to be there again this week. It will be nice to challenge him but my goal will be to try and make the cut this week and enjoy my game,” said the 54-year-old.

When asked if he had a chance of winning, Woosnam replied, “Miracles can happen.”

By Indian Sports News Network