Els offers Westwood some major advice – win one

2011-04-27 10:45

Ernie Els today gave new world number one Lee Westwood some simple advice to silence those who question his place at the top of the golf rankings: win a Major.

Westwood has said he is sick of being asked about his failure to win one of the big four championships after critics queried his right to be considered world number one.

Three-time Major winner Els, himself a former number one, said he had some sympathy for Westwood, but there was only one thing the Englishman could do to shut the naysayers up.

“Win a Major. Get the monkey off your back. That’s the only one, and nobody needs to tell him that – he knows that,” said Els, who is in the lineup for the $3.2 million (about R21 million) Ballantine’s Championship at Blackstone Golf Club near Seoul.

Els topped the world rankings for a total of nine weeks in 1997 and 1998 and said he too endured critics saying he was not a worthy number one – though he already had a US Open title under his belt.

“I remember when I was number one, I got stick for it because people said the same about me, that I wasn’t doing enough, though I had won a Major,” he said.

“It’s something that’s going to stick with Lee – you guys (reporters) are going to keep asking the question. Me personally, I think he’s done enough.”

Westwood spent 17 weeks at number one from last November before being overtaken by Germany’s Martin Kaymer in February.

A win at the Indonesia Masters on Sunday took Westwood back to the top, though he had to rely on countryman Luke Donald slipping up at the US PGA Heritage tournament.

Els said that despite the Major gap in Westwood’s trophy cabinet, he had earned the number one spot through hard work and dedication over recent years.

Topping the rankings represents a remarkable comeback for Westwood – he reached number four in the world in 2001 before his career went into freefall, leaving him languishing a lowly 250th.

“You have to give Lee credit because he’s really re-dedicated himself to the game, especially in the last three or four years,” Els said.

“He’s had numerous top threes and top fives in Majors – I know it’s not winning but you have to give the guy credit for really playing very very well. He’s won tournaments all around the world.”

When he tees off at the Ballantine’s tomorrow, Westwood will be reunited for the first round with Ryder Cup team-mates Ian Poulter and Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Between them, the three players contributed seven and a half points in Europe’s nailbiting win over the United States at the Celtic Manor in Wales last October.

Asia’s first Major winner YE Yang, a South Korean, is also in the field.

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