Westwood survives tough finish to win in Spain

Updated: May 13, 2007, 1:37 PM ET
Reuters

MARBELLA, Spain -- Britain's Lee Westwood survived a faltering finish to take the Andalucia Open title on Sunday for his 17th European Tour victory.

A closing five-under 67 to total 20-under 268 left the 34-year-old Englishman two strokes better than fellow-Briton Phillip Archer (65) and Sweden's Fredrik Andersson-Hed (66).

Westwood appeared to be running away with the event when he cruised five shots ahead of the field with eight holes to go but then the fragility of his putting resurfaced.

He came out of the blocks with three successive birdies and led by four strokes at the turn but, as Archer and Andersson-Hed came at him, three back-nine bogeys ensured a nervy finish.

The expected showdown between Westwood and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano failed to materialize as the Spaniard's 72 left him six strokes adrift of the winner.

Needing only putts of around three feet at the opening three holes to pick up strokes cloaked Westwood's Achilles' Heel -- his putting.

He had turned around his performance on the Aloha greens by changing putters and switching to a left-below-right putting grip after the first round, but three putts to only par the long fifth showed he is not completely over his malaise.

When he twice missed from four feet on the back nine, including an eagle chance at the long 16th, he needed to draw on the sort of experience he gained when becoming 2000 European No. 1 to ensure he did not let victory slip from his grasp.

Although Andersson-Hed and Archer cut his lead to only one shot, Westwood was two ahead going to the last hole but he missed the 18th green and needed to ram in a 40-footer to avoid worrying about another three-putt and being taken to a playoff.

"It was very important to win again and win under pressure," said Westwood, whose victory came three years and 227 days after his last.

"It was looking a lot easier than I made it in the end, with two more three-putts, but the pressure comes on your putting stroke. After my first round 72, I could never have believed I would be in this position."

The winner's ranking points took Westwood into the world's top 50, a position he would like to be in when the June U.S. Open field is decided soon.

An even poorer back nine of 38 by Fernandez-Castano, who began the final round only a stroke behind Westwood, prevented the home favorite and last week's Italian Open champion from becoming a rare back-to-back European Tour winner.

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