Westwood takes top spot


SOTOGRANDE, October 31- England's Lee Westwood has become the new world number one for the first time as he ended American Tiger Woods's 281-week reign at the top of the golf rankings.

Germany’s newly-crowned US PGA champion Martin Kaymer needed a top-two finish at the European Tour’s Andalucia Masters tournament to take the top ranking himself but ended Sunday’s fourth round well off the lead at seven over.

Kaymer fired a final-round 75 to finish 10 shots behind winner Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland.

This allowed Westwood, who was not playing as he rests an injured calf, to complete a remarkable turnaround in fortunes which sees him become Europe’s first number one since Nick Faldo in 1994, seven years after slumping to 266th in the rankings.

Asked if it was the most satisfying moment in his career, the 37-year-old said: "Yes I think so. It’s a dream everyone has to say there is nobody better than me at the moment. You have to say it’s a highlight.

"It’s a great honour and a big responsibility. It certainly sounds and feels good right now.

"When you are growing up and people say what do you want to achieve, everyone says I want to be the best in the world. Right at this moment I can show people the world rankings and say I am the best on the planet."

Westwood will quickly come face to face with the man he deposed, with 14-time major winner Woods among the field at the forthcoming WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai along with Kaymer and Phil Mickelson.

"I have a great relationship with Tiger," added Westwood, who travels to Shanghai on Monday afternoon.

"We have mutual respect and have always got on well, on and off the course. I give him a little bit of stick and he gives me a little.

"When Tiger was in his pomp everyone thought it (being number one) was unattainable.

"But form comes and goes — I’m a perfect example of that — and when we started to get a bit nearer the top of the rankings we started to think it was obtainable."

All that is now missing from Westwood’s CV is a major championship, with several recent near misses helping propel him to the top of the rankings.

But Westwood is not putting any extra pressure on himself to break his duck now he is world number one.

"I don’t think it adds to the pressure, there’s enough as it is," he added. "It’s a confidence boost if anything.

"It’s confirmation that I’m working on the right things more than anything. This is nothing but a positive thing.

"Winning majors is something you learn to do. You get into position as often as possible and try not to make the same mistakes again. I have seen most things by now and hopefully I will know what to do."

Despite once again failing to win a major this year, Westwood has been the most consistent golfer in the world with runner-up finishes in the Masters and at the British Open.

Woods, meanwhile, has failed to win a single tournament as the ripple effects from his marriage meltdown have wrecked his focus and form on the course.

Kaymer paid tribute to Westwood.

"Lee really deserves it, he’s one of the greatest guys on Tour," said the German. "At the Ryder Cup he showed what kind of person he is. He helped me. I’m very happy for Lee."