Match Play: Will he have royal touch?

2012-02-22T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T15:41:25Z Match Play: Will he have royal touch?Patrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 22, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Lee Westwood quit drinking Jan. 8, hoping to lose a few pounds.

But there have been occasions since, he said, when a celebratory drink seemed appropriate.

Six days ago, after all, he received an honorary appointment by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. He was named an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire after being ranked the world's No. 1 golfer last year.

"You have to have a couple glasses of champagne at lunch afterwards and at night, and the night before," he joked Tuesday. "But apart from that, I'm sort of back being off of it."

Westwood, a No. 1 seed in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, will face Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts at 11:45 a.m. today at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain.

The No. 3 overall player doesn't have a title - in the event or from the Queen.

"You can call me 'Sir' if you like," was his cheeky response, "but Mr. Westwood would do."

Westwood and Her Royal Highness chatted about travel, weather and golf. But the Worksop, Nottinghamshire, native would have rather spoken to the noted horse-racing fan about the ponies.

The 38-year-old laughed that he'd do that if he ever becomes a knight.

A more svelte Westwood - he said he was never a heavy drinker, but has gone from 214 to 201 pounds this year - would like to figure out Match Play.

He's played in every event but one since 1999, but has never made it out of the second round.

"I don't really know what's happened," he said. "I can't put my finger on it. I've played well in individual rounds. I had bad luck a couple times."

He had some of the same two weeks ago at the Dubai Desert Classic.

Up two strokes after the second hole on the final day, he bogeyed the fifth hole and missed birdie putts at Nos. 9 and 10.

On No. 18, he missed a birdie putt that would have forced a playoff round with Rafael Cabrera-Bello.

"Gave myself seven or eight birdie chances," he said, "and didn't make any of them. And then made a mess of the last, really off almost too perfect a drive."

It made the flight home ache, even with the appointment with the Queen looming.

"It was quite hard to fly," he joked, "when you're on the wagon."

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