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Former world No. 1 Lee Westwood ends 22-month for a European Tour title
Englishman romps to seven-stroke victory at Malaysian Open on Sunday
Play is halted for more than four hours due to threat of lightning
It’s been a while between celebrations for Lee Westwood, but the English golfer feels he is regaining the form that took him to the top of the world rankings.
Back in 2010, Westwood was the man who ended Tiger Woods’ record 281 consecutive weeks as No. 1.
He stayed there for four months, and returned to the summit for a few weeks in 2011, but has been in danger of becoming the sport’s “nearly man” after failing to capitalize on strong positions in the four majors.
Before Sunday’s triumph at the Malaysian Open, Westwood’s last tournament win was at another lower-tier European Tour event in Sweden two years ago.
Having finished seventh at the Masters at Augusta this month, the 40-year-old believes he is back on course after starting work with a new coach and reuniting with his old caddy Billy Foster.
“I was going back to what I had done before because it had worked,” said Westwood, who won his 23rd European Tour title with his 13th victory in Asia.
“It’s started to work already – the last couple of weeks I’ve played well in Houston and at the Masters last week and this week I’ve obviously played very well.
“Now I feel like I’ve got a short game and starting to roll a few putts in. It makes a helluva difference if you can get up-and-down if you miss a few greens, and it keeps the momentum going.”
Westwood won by seven shots from European Ryder Cup teammate Nicolas Colsaerts, South Africa’s 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen and Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger.
He had led compatriot Andy Sullivan by one shot going into the final round, and extended that advantage to four when play was halted for four hours due to the possibility of a lightning strike.
Sullivan dropped even further off the pace after the resumption and finished tied for 13th with a six-over-par 78.
Westwood – who won the Kuala Lumpur event in 1997 before it became co-sanctioned – finished with a birdie as he signed for a bogey-free 68, while 71st-ranked Wiesberger shot 67, Oosthuizen made 68 and Colsaerts 70.
Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal, who made headlines on Friday when he leaped into a water hazard to avoid a swarm of giant hornets, tied for eighth place after closing with 67.
Meanwhile, Michelle Wie claimed her first victory since 2010 on Saturday, triumphing at the LPGA Tour’s Lotte Championship in her native Hawaii.
The former teen prodigy, now 24, followed up her runner-up finish at the season’s opening major tournament – the Kraft Nabisco Championship – as she won by two shots from fellow American Angela Stanford.
World No. 1 Inbee Park of South Korea was third.
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