Lee Westwood will kick off the Ryder Cup at Celtic manor and hit the first tee ball for Europe at Celtic Manor on Friday morning.
As many pros will tell you, the first shot at the Ryder Cup is nerve-wracking task, especially for rookies. There are stories of players that were so worked up that they couldn’t stick to the plan and forced their less-nervous partner to go first. So when Westwood asked Captain Monty for the job, he willingly gave it to him.
“Hitting the first ball is daunting and not for everyone,” said captain Montgomerie. “When Lee asked for that position, it gave me no option but to give him that honour.”
Westwood is also playing in his first competitive round since withdrawing from the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in early August due to a calf injury. But he’s reportedly healthy and as fit as he’s ever been in practice this week.
“I want to see 11 people stood there right behind me following me,” he said. “If I get out there and chest out, chin up, I’ve got the most experience to try and show them how it’s done.”
Westwood also isn’t concerned that he’s been out of the game for a few months.
“I don’t have concern with the competitive edge,” he said. “I’ve played well in the practice rounds, and I don’t see how that’s going to change in the competitive rounds. And when the match itself starts, I think I’ll be up for it even more.
“I wouldn’t be here if I don’t think I could play five matches.”
Interestingly enough, Westy is set to pass Phil Mickelson as No. 2 in the world rankings in next Monday’s latest edition. He also has the chance to overtake Tiger Woods as the No.1 player in the world when he tees it up at next week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St. Andrews, where he took second at the Open Championship earlier this summer. Mickelson had 12 straight tournaments to dethrone Tiger, but since the US Open, he’s only finished in the top-20 twice.
But first, Westwood, whose 16.5 career Ryder Cup points are the most for both teams, will partner with PGA champion Martin Kayer against Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson in the marquee match on Friday morning.