The 46-year-old’s season opening victory at the 2020 Abu Dhabi Championship as presented by EGA was his 25th on the European Tour and also means he has won in four different decades after his first victory at the Volvo Scandinavian Masters in 1996.
Westwood finished 19 under par, two shots clear of Tommy Fleetwood, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Victor Perez, and believes his experience of winning will stand him in good stead in Dubai.
“I think the more you win, the more you get used to getting back to being on an even keel, really,” Westwood said.
“A lot of people, if they win early in their career, they struggle to bring themselves back again, but I’ve won a lot of tournaments and I’ve won weeks back to back.
“Obviously over the years, I’ve had to really kind of evaluate everything, take it all in, process it, if you call it that - I hate that term - and then get ready for the following week.”
Westwood led the field in driving accuracy at Abu Dhabi Golf Club to pick up his first worldwide win since the 2018 Nedbank Golf Challenge.
He admits that his celebrations have changed since a huge show of emotion which greeted his first European Tour win as a 23-year-old.
“The following weeks used to be difficult. I took the week off, actually, after winning Scandinavia and I came back and missed the cut,” Westwood added.
“It was difficult. Your first win, you’re obviously in a dream world and it’s very difficult. You’ve not had that experience before, so you don’t know how to handle it. It just comes with experience and winning more tournaments.
“Now, you know, it took me a day. My drinks are a bit more grown up and my celebrations, as well. No more shots!”
For Fleetwood there was to be no perfect birthday present as he turned 29 last Sunday, falling just short of his third win at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on a course where he recorded back to back wins in 2017 and 2018.
A bogey free 63 in the final round was his lowest round over the layout but was not enough to pip Westwood to the title and Fleetwood is full of admiration for the champion.
“I think he’s in a really good place himself at the moment, and it’s a different inspiration now,” Fleetwood said.
“Because you watch him play as a kid, and now you know as well as he is a competitor, I class him as a friend and somebody that we can speak to and great to hang around with and learn off.
“I think we’re all lucky to have Lee out on the Tour and absolutely if you can aspire to somebody, Lee is a fantastic person.”
Fleetwood can be rightly pleased with his game after an impressive start to the season and admits he now relishes playing in this part of the world.
“I think most players feel very at home when they come out here. There’s so many events now in the Middle East or the UAE; for me, you always start the year out here and hopefully you end the year here,” he added.
“I’ve not always done well in the Middle East. I feel like I’ve grown to improve and actually I feel comfortable and it is such a great place to play golf.” European Tour