Lee Westwood Biography

Golfer(1973–)
British golfer Lee Westwood starred in Ryder Cup play for Europe and held the top spot in the world rankings in 2010 and 2011.

Synopsis

Golfer Lee Westwood was born on April 24, 1973, in Worksop, England. He notched victories on both the PGA Tour and the European Tour after turning professional in 1993, though his career was also marked by close losses. Westwood was ranked No. 1 in the world in late 2010 and briefly took over the top spot again the following year.

An Early Competitor

Athlete, professional golfer. Born Lee Westwood on April 24, 1973, in Worksop, England. Westwood was the only child born to John Westwood, a math teacher, and Trish, a podiatrist. From an early age their son showed a passion for sports and, like his father, a penchant for competitive play. "He and I used to have swimming races on holiday," John Westwood once recalled. "If it was diving, I might give him a mark occasionally and then he would try and beat that mark. We did press-ups against one another. When he was little we would roll cars to see who could get it closer to the edge of the table. We would arm-wrestle. The competition was not vicious. When he won, he got rewarded."

In high school, Lee competed in soccer, rugby, cricket and cross-country events. But golf seemed to hold his interest more than anything. He'd fallen in love with the sport at the age of 12 when he stayed up late to watch Jack Nicklaus win the 1986 Masters. A year later, his grandparents gave him a partial set of clubs. He birdied a hole his first time out, and by the time he was 15, Westwood had taken home the local junior championship.

Professional Golf

His amateur career took off after that, and in 1993 after winning the British Youth Championship, Westwood turned professional. His first few years as a pro were fairly quiet, but in late 1997 he caught the attention of golf fans on both sides of the Atlantic with three quick victories. The wins catapulted Westwood near the top of the European Tour's money list.

In April 1998, Westwood won the Freeport-McDermott Classic in New Orleans, which was followed by two more victories in Europe a month later. He then became a regular member of Europe's Ryder Cup team, not to mention one of its top scorers; in 2004 and 2006 he was unbeaten in all five of his matches.

Heartbreaking Losses

But like Phil Mickelson early in his career, Westwood was dogged by the perception that he couldn't close out big tournaments. At the 2008 U.S. Open, he missed a 20-foot birdie that would have sent him into a playoff. At the 2010 Masters, he saw his lead in the final round evaporate. A month later, at the Players Championship, Westwood again fell short, this time to Tim Clark, a little-known South African who'd gone winless in his previous 200 American tournaments. "Westwood is not a finisher," opined one golf writer after the Players Championship. "Period."

A cheery person by nature, Westwood, however, continued to express confidence about his game. "While I'm disappointed, I'm pleased with myself," he told reporters. "I think that I've proved to myself and a few others that there is a major championship in me."

That summer, Westwood claimed his second PGA Tour win with his showing at the St. Jude Classic. He became the world's top-ranked golfer that October, and again after winning the Indonesian Masters in April 2011. Westwood continued to deliver strong performances at events all over the world, notching victories at the Maybank Malaysian Open and Thailand Golf Championship in 2014.

Personal

In January 1999, Westwood married wife Laurae, the sister of Scottish pro golfer Andrew Coltart. They have two children, Sam and Poppy. In December 2012, the family moved to West Palm Beach, Florida.  

Lee earned an honorary degree from Nottingham Trent University in 2007. In 2011, he was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire.

Fact Check

We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!