Lee Westwood says he's ready
NEWPORT, Wales -- Top European golfer Lee Westwood pronounced himself ready to go for the Ryder Cup on Thursday, saying he had recovered from a right calf injury that has kept him out of competition since early August.
The Englishman, who finished second to Louis Oosthuizen at the Open Championship and to Phil Mickelson at the Masters, said he had serious doubts over the past few weeks that he would recover in time to join the European team at Celtic Manor.
"Only when I started putting weight on it and hitting more balls the last couple of weeks did I sort of start to allow myself to think about playing this week, and getting emotionally up for it," said Westwood, who is ranked third in the world behind Tiger Woods and Mickelson. "It's something that I've never been through before and you don't know what to expect. It's a bit like being a rookie on the Ryder Cup team."
Westwood, 37, is hardly a rookie. This is his seventh Ryder Cup, and he has a 14-10-5 record while playing on four winning teams. He has 20 European Tour victories and two on the PGA Tour, including one earlier this year at the Memphis Open.
Westwood suffered the injury in June, but managed to play in the U.S. Open and British Open.
The injury got worse, however, and caused him to withdraw after the second round of the Bridgestone Invitational. He skipped the following week's PGA Championship and has not played a competitive round since, only getting back on the golf course two weeks ago.
"I don't have a 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.
"[But] it's a very difficult golf course to come back to. It's very heavy underfoot, and it's quite hilly in places, and there's quite a lot of slopes, steep slopes to walk up to," Westwood said of the course. "Ideally I would have liked to have broke myself in gently in a tournament with 18 holes a day, but that wasn't possible.
"But I wouldn't be here if I [didn't] think I could play five matches."
That might not be necessary. European captain Colin Montgomerie has hinted strongly that none of his players will compete in every match, saying he wants them to be fresh for Sunday's singles.
Westwood's Ryder Cup debut came in 1997 at Valderrama, where Seve Ballesteros was the European captain. The Spanish star is battling brain cancer but spoke to the team via speaker phone on Tuesday.
"He sounded just as passionate as he always does when talking about the Ryder Cup," Westwood said. "He obviously is one of the legends of the game, and instrumental in taking European golf to a world audience. And he did that partly through his own career, but a majority of that through all of that passion he showed in Ryder Cups.
"It was great to hear. Not that everybody needed a lift, but it gave some of the lads that had not played with him or spent much time with him that extra idea of what it's all about. I know it was over the phone, but you could still almost see a twinkle in his eyes when he was talking. He was so passionate."
Bob Harig is a golf writer for ESPN.com.
38TH MATCHES AT CELTIC MANOR
In his career, the Ryder Cup has meant everything to Colin Montgomerie. That's why leading the Europeans to victory Monday as captain stands as a crowning achievement. Bob Harig | Championship CentralDate: Oct. 1-4, 2010
2010 champion: Europe
Course: Celtic Manor Twenty Ten Course
Where: Newport, Wales, United Kingdom
Rosters: United States | Europe