Sidelined for all but two tournaments since withdrawing from the last World Golf Championship event in August due to a calf injury, Lee Westwood shot six-under 66 at the HSBC Champions in his debut as the world’s No. 1 ranked player. He trails Francesco Molinari of The Molinari Brothers, who made four straight birdies toward the end, by one shot.
I stayed up past my bedtime to catch the coverage scheduled to begin at midnight, but when I tuned in, I found the European Tour Weekly instead. It didn’t take long to realize the Golf Channel someone was sleeping on the job was experiencing technical difficulties. So naturally, I dozed off, but I woke up just in time to catch Westwood finish on a high note, draining a 20-ish-footer for birdie. The only blemish on his scorecard came on No. 7 (his 16th) hole.
A trio of players (that you probably don’t care about or have never heard of), Yuta Ikeda, Henrik Stenson and Seung-Yul Noh, carded five-under 65 for a share of third after the first round at Shenshan International in Shanghai, China. You may recall Noh’s name a few months back when the 19-year-old South Korean enjoyed a brief stint near the top of the leaderboard halfway through the PGA Championship.
The player formerly known as the world’s No. 1 golfer opened with a four-under 68. After his round, he said things like, “I hit a lot of good golf shots” and “putted really well.” (Some things never change!)
“I don’t think I need to reinforce why I’m No. 1 in the world,” Westwood said. “I think you get there as a result of having good performances. But it’s nice to go out there and show everybody that there is a particular reason why I got to that stage.”
18 down, 54 to go. He’s shown us that we can be confident for at least 45 more. Oh relax, I’m just kidding.