Lee Westwood is already eyeing the Ryder Cup captaincy in 2022, but admits he must stay “in touch” with the new generation in the meantime – or end up like Tom Watson.
The former world No.1 had ruled himself out of contention for the reins in 2020, with Padraig Harrington subsequently selected to lead the European charge at Whistling Straits.
The century-old tournament will arrive in Italy for the first time ever two years later and Westwood believes he’ll be at the right age, at 49, to assume leadership.
However, he has every intention of playing alongside his potential selections on the European Tour until then, fully aware of the problems Watson encountered.
In 2014 the eight-time Major winner presided over USA’s disastrous tournament at Gleneagles, having been 15 years removed from regular appearances on the PGA Tour.
“I’d love to have it in Italy. I’ll not lie to you,” said Westwood of the captaincy. “That would be ideal for me to be captain in Italy. I think this time around (for 2020), I proved the end of last year, that I can still win tournaments, and I feel like I can still qualify for a Ryder Cup team.
“After that, Italy, I’ll be 49, and that’s the ideal time to be captain in my point of view. I’ll still be playing out here. I’ll still be in touch with the players.
“You’ve got to be out here so you can keep an eye on the new talent coming out and you know in autumn the players that are going to be there or thereabouts. So you’ve got a connection with them.
“I think Tom Watson’s captaincy at Gleneagles pointed that out; that he was just a bit too old and out of touch with the players that were on his team.”
Not that Westwood is out hammering balls every day – the 24-time European winner revealed on Tuesday ahead of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship he now spends more time sharpening his mind.
“I don’t really work on (his game) that much anymore, the physical side of it,” added Westwood, who lifted the 2009 DP World Tour Championship. “I work on the mental side of it and when I come out, I more or less practice my short game, and once I hit a few balls and got back into the swing of things, that doesn’t take long to get back.
“I work with a psychologist and I just run through scenarios in my head of the way tournaments can go and the way I’ll think about things on the golf course when things happen so I’m prepared for it.”
Know more about Sport360 Application