By Bernie McGuire in Saudi.
Lee Westwood is determined not to be distracted by thoughts of the European Ryder Cup captaincy until the Englishman is good and ready to lead Europe.
Westwood, 48, is a veteran of 11 straight European teams, from his debut in 1997 to last September. He’s been in seven winning European Teams and none better than 2006 when Westwood was undefeated securing four points for Ian Woosnam’s winning side amid unprecedented victorious and emotional scenes at the K Club.
However, there were suggestions soon after the disappointment last September of Europe’s defeat along the shores of Lake Michigan that Westwood was very much in the mix to take over from Padraig Harrington and lead Europe into competition in Rome in 2023.
So much so, Westwood was approached by the European Tour’s Ryder Cup Director, Guy Kinnings. And now in a first public confirmation of this meeting, Westwood sought from Kinnings, the long-running IMG manager of Colin Montgomerie, a ‘job description’ of what the captaincy role entails.
Westwood has also said, ahead of this week’s Asian Tour’s flagship Saudi Invitational, that on the eve of the $5m event, it is the first time he’s spoken ‘on the record’ of this request he placed before Kinnings.
“I spoke to Guy Kinnings about the captaincy role and he’s spoken to me about it since,” said the current World No. 41.
“The situation is that I am still top-50 in the world and every golfer out here wants to be out here for as long as possible, and they want to maximise their time when you’re competitive.
“I still feel I am competitive. I still feel like….Well the first two tournaments of the year I probably should have been in the mix.
“I could see it happening when I turned-up to Abu Dhabi the other week and the Tour would be announcing the new Ryder Cup captain and all week I would been talking about the Ryder Cup captaincy rather than being able to focus on winning the HSBC.
“So back in October, and just right after the Ryder Cup I spoke to Guy. Everybody was saying to me that if I took on the captaincy it would be a full-time job.
“I said to Guy at the time ‘well give me a list of the duties and what is required, and what’s asked of me, and I will see if it is a full-time job and whether I can play and still undertake that role of being a captain’.
“The Tour couldn’t really give me a list of what to do, a job description or statement of duties or what you may refer to it.
“I feel like if I am to accept the Ryder Cup captaincy I would want to be full-time Ryder Cup captain and not commit to both playing a schedule and also sharing that will your role as a captain.
“I still love playing, I still love competing and no disrespect to the European Ryder Cup captaincy but 2023 is just not the right time for me.
“It is only in recent months I have been associated with the next Ryder Cup captaincy because I am a little bit younger than Padraig (Harrington) and a little bit older than people like Henrik (Stenson) and Poults (Ian Poulter).
“And because I am 48, I slotted into the right age bracket. So, I want to continue focusing on my playing career. I don’t want to answer questions on how other people are playing.”
Westwood’s comments and those of Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, and Ian Poulter continue to herald Luke Donald being named 2023 European Ryder Cup captain.
However, it does also mean that if Poulter were to be appointed 2025 captain, then Westwood would then be seriously in contention for the 2025 European captaincy at Adare Manor.
And all Irish golf fans know who we are rooting to win the Adare Manor captaincy vote.