Soon-to-be No. 1 Lee Westwood not playing on US PGA Tour in 2011

By Graham Otway, AP
Wednesday, October 6, 2010

No. 1 heir Westwood not playing on US Tour in 2011

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — Lee Westwood says he will not be a regular on the PGA Tour in the U.S. next year, meaning Tiger Woods’ anticipated successor as the top-ranked golfer will be based on the European Tour.

The 37-year-old Englishman said Wednesday that he will put his family first in 2011, remaining based in Europe despite the millions more dollars he could earn competing for the FedEx Cup.

His only trips to America next year will be for the majors, World Golf Championships and occasional events that might help him prepare for those tournaments.

“I’m not taking my card up in the States,” Westwood said as he prepared for Thursday’s start of the Dunhill Links Championship.

Finishing first or second in the $5 million event on three coastline courses including St. Andrews would see Westwood end Woods’ 278-week run as golf’s top-ranked player.

“Why would you take up membership in the States when you’ve been the most successful player in the world this year?” Westwood asked. “When you’ve come in second in two major championships you must be doing something right. Why not stick to the same schedule?”

Westwood was runner-up in the Masters and the British Open and could become only the third player to reach No. 1 without having won a major.

“I don’t want to get into a situation where I have to play events in America just to make up 15 needed for tour membership,” he said. “The FedEx Cup sits right in the middle of the kids’ summer holidays and I like going on holiday with them for a couple of weeks.”

Westwood says he has been sounded out by American officials to join their tour, but after another successful Ryder Cup for Europe he turned his focus to personal goals.

“As of Monday evening in Wales I became an individual again, and I do what’s right for Lee Westwood now,” he said.

Woods is not playing golf competitively until November when he visits China for the HSBC World Championship and Melbourne for the Australian Masters.

Choosing to play more in Europe than America in 2011 will make it more difficult for Westwood to remain No. 1 because for most weeks of the year PGA Tour events carry more ranking points.

The Dunhill Links is an exception to that rule, with eight other members of the European Ryder Cup team taking part, including Graeme McDowell, Martin Kaymer, Rory McIlory, Padraig Harrington, Ross Fisher, Peter Hanson, Edoardo Molinari and captain Colin Montgomerie.

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