Lee Westwood Wins Match Play Title

Monday, October 9th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

VIRGINIA WATER, England (AP) — Lee Westwood won the World Match Play title Monday, beating defending champion Colin Montgomerie in the rain with a 20-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole.

Westwood made a birdie putt of the same distance to avoid falling behind at the 35th hole. Both players birdied the 36th and the first playoff hole.

``It was not an easy ride,'' said Westwood, who defeated Sergio Garcia and Ernie Els to reach the final. ``It is also satisfying to beat Colin head-to-head on a golf course he loves playing on.''

Montgomerie has won the last three British PGA Championships on this course as well as taking this title last year.

``All credit to Lee,'' the Scotsman said. ``He hung in there and holed a monster putt at the 35th. That was crucial to the match.''

Westwood's victory was his sixth in Europe this year and earned the Englishman $362,500. Montgomerie won $160,000.

The first half of the 36-hole final in the rain-delayed event was played Sunday. The players resumed Monday and finished in more heavy rain.

This was the first time the championship went to a playoff since Seve Ballesteros beat Sandy Lyle on the 37th hole in 1982.

Westwood held a two-hole edge when the final was halted because of darkness after 18 holes Sunday.

But Montgomerie caught him Monday at the 24th hole and went in front at the 26th. The lead then changed hands three holes in a row from the 31st to leave the two finalists even with three to play.

Montgomerie expected Westwood to make the long birdie putt at the 35th.

``In match play if you're surprised by anything you're in the wrong frame of mind,'' he said. ``If he happens to miss, it's a bonus. So I expected it to go in.''

An error by Montgomerie at the short 32nd put Westwood ahead. But he was even again at the 33rd when Westwood's par putt from 4 feet lipped out.

Both drove into fairway at the 571-yard 35th, the 17th on Wentworth's West Course. But Westwood was 30 yards short of the green with his second shot while Montgomerie hit the green.

Westwood's chip was long and hit a rare hard spot on the sodden greens, scooting 20 feet past the pin.

``I hit the shot I wanted to hit. It just took off,'' he said.

But after Montgomerie made sure of his birdie, Westwood canned his 20-footer to stay even.

At the last hole, with rain starting to fall, Montgomerie had to make a 5-foot birdie putt to match Westwood's 3-footer after a superb chip from the rough.