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Westwood survives tough finish to win in Spain

5/13/2007 - Golf Lee Westwood

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.