World’s No. 1 Golfer Living Up to His Billing
By Stephanie Wei under European PGA Tour

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.