By Ali Stafford
Lee Westwood has been named the European Tour’s Players’ Player of the Year and received the Seve Ballesteros Award on the anniversary of the Spaniard’s passing.
European Tour Members voted for Westwood to receive the accolade after a remarkable 2020 campaign, where the 48-year-old topped the Race to Dubai standings for a third time and became the oldest player in history to end the season as European No 1.
The first of Westwood’s ten Ryder Cup appearances for Team Europe came in 1997 under Ballesteros, with the announcement of his latest accolade coming on the tenth anniversary of the Spanish legend’s death.
“It means a lot that it is voted for by my fellow players, the guys I play with week-in week-out,” Westwood said. “Awards like this are always very special because I feel like they as players know what you have to go through.
“Seve was an icon of the game, and still is. When I started playing golf, I was looking at the Europeans and Seve’s name was at the top of that list as somebody to aspire to. The first tournaments I ever went to watch were Ryder Cups in 1989 and 1993, and Seve’s name is synonymous with the Ryder Cup.
“I remember looking at these guys like Seve and Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie, Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam wanting to be like them. Then in 1997 I am in a Ryder Cup team captained by Seve Ballesteros, so it was a very short gap between looking and watching and learning from my heroes to actually being amongst them trying to win points in a Ryder Cup.
“That for me was really one of those pinch yourself moments, like is this really happening to me. Seve was a huge part of that and inspirational in the team room, and just a phenomenal and very calming presence.”
Westwood claimed his second Rolex Series title at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January 2020, overcoming his fellow Englishmen Matt Fitzpatrick and Tommy Fleetwood as well as France’s Victor Perez.
The veteran missed just one cut in 15 appearances during a shortened 2020 season and produced eight top-20s, with a runner-up finish at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship seeing him claim the Race to Dubai title.
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive Officer at the European Tour, said: “I don’t think it is any surprise that Lee Westwood has won the Seve Ballesteros Award after such a tremendous season. At 48 years of age he is an icon, a former World Number One, our most recent Race to Dubai winner and like Seve, Lee is a true champion.
“He has an unwavering will to succeed, and he has proven that over and over again in his career. Lee is one of the few remaining European Tour players to have competed alongside Seve and to have had the honour to call him a friend. They are two players who will be long remembered in the pantheon of European Tour and Ryder Cup greats.”
Javier Ballesteros, Seve’s oldest son, added: “I am personally very happy Lee Westwood is the winner of the Seve Ballesteros Award for his incredible season. Lee is playing some great golf, I think he is physically in great shape and when you enjoy not only golf but life away from the game, things go well for you, and that has shown in how he has played not only last year but over the past few years around the world.”
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