At one time he was number one in Europe, then there was the two year drought which included a series of play-off defeats and the unfortunate "sour grapes" incident at the 2008 Ryder Cup, when the Englishman came under fire for his complaints of heckling and abuse. At that time Westwood was looked at by many as whiny and weak.
Now, with his win at the Portugal Masters, Westwood is at the top again. At the top of the European money list... the Order of Merit... the Race to Dubai. What ever you call it, it's a good place to be.
The tournament - which began inauspiciously for Mr. Westwood with a wasp sting in the first round - had it's share of drama.
Padraig Harrington, who finished four shots back in third place, had a brush with dehydration in the second round. Retief Goosen who was in the lead going into today's final round had a meltdown and finshed the day at 75 and the tournament in a tie for sixth place. And... throughout the tournament there was Francesco Molinari.
From Italy, and not well known on these shores, Mr. Molinari is ranked 70th in the world, and at the Portugal Masters his 15-under-par halfway score matched the best so far this season. He led going into rounds two and three, and in the final round made a valiant charge to briefly catch up with Westwood by the 12th. However, a missed putt... of under three feet... on the 16th, and the resulting bogey, saw him finish 2 back in second.
And finally there was Rory Mcilroy. The headline grabbing young'un was in Portugal too, but probably wishes he wasn't. After finishing tied for 30th he was forced to hand Westwood his spot at the top of the Race to Dubai. He'll try to grab it back next week in Spain, starting on Thursday. Rory also announced that he was 80% sure he wouldn't be joining the US PGA tour next year, contrary to the rumors swirling. That was welcome news for the Euro Tour.
The quote of the day has to go to the tounament winner however. When describing his run in with the aggressive wasp early in the tournament, the much maligned player explained how he got past it, to pull off a solid round, "I saw it clinging on while it was stinging me, but I'm a big, hard, strong lad!"
What a difference a year makes.
Photos: Lee Westwood - Andrew Redington/Getty Images ✿ Francesco Molinari, Retief Goosen, Padraig Harrington - Francisco Leong/Getty Images ✿ Rory McIlroy - Andrew Redington/Getty Images