Golf: Westwood fully focused on golf again after marriage breakdown

England's Lee Westwood wants to fully focus on golf again this season.
England's Lee Westwood wants to fully focus on golf again this season. PHOTO: REUTERS

DUBAI (REUTERS) - Former world No. 1 Lee Westwood wants to focus fully on golf again this season after being distracted by a painful split from wife Laurae in 2015.

The Englishman had a season to forget last year, sliding from 26th to 50th in the rankings after failing to win on either the European or US tours.

"I'm going through a divorce and found it nearly impossible to concentrate on golf," Westwood told ESPN.co.uk in an interview. "How I played didn't really concern me but now I'm back living in the UK permanently and trying to factor in when I see my two kids and which events I play around that.

"I just want to get some consistency back in my game and start to enjoy it again," said Westwood, who opened his Dubai Desert Classic campaign with a disappointing three-over 75 on Thursday, leaving him nine strokes behind clubhouse leader Alex Noren of Sweden.

The 42-year-old, back in Britain following a three-year spell living in Florida, has been recharging his batteries recently. "I haven't played much this winter so I feel well rested," said Westwood, who had a spell at the top of the rankings in 2010 and 2011.

"I needed that break after the season I'd had.

"I enjoyed playing in the EurAsia Cup (last month) which, because it was matchplay and not strokeplay, meant there wasn't too much pressure kicking off the year."

There was some good news for Westwood at the end of 2015 when he edged up one place in the rankings from 51st to 50th, earning him a place at the US Masters in April and the British Open in July.

"Getting into the Masters and the Open was a bit of a 'double whammy' as far as I was concerned," he said. "It wouldn't have been good to miss out on Augusta. The Masters is the one everybody looks toward at the start of the year, it's the natural one you want to peak for... the early season is all about preparation for the Masters."