PALM BEACH GARDENS, Florida, March 2 (Reuters) - You won’t catch Englishman Lee Westwood slipping into a Transatlantic drawl just yet but the 39-year-old from Nottinghamshire is already starting to feel at home in his new base in Florida.
“The quality of life and the ease of life. Nothing is a problem really and playing on this tour, you are spoilt really,” Westwood told reporters after his even-par 70 left him two shots off the Honda Classic lead heading into Sunday’s final round.
Last week, Westwood officially moved into his home by the Old Palm golf club, just two miles from this week’s tournament and a very diffent environment to his home town of Worksop, 20 miles from Sheffield.
The world number nine is therefore enjoying a version of home support at the PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, where he will aim to unseat American joint leaders Luke Guthrie and Michael Thompson.
“When I walk on 17 and they say I‘m from Palm Beach Gardens, a bigger cheer goes up than when it’s from Worksop, for sure,” joked Westwood.
“But I’ve got a lot of support in the States as it is, but probably even more so now that I’ve moved here,” he said.
It took a while for Westwood to make the move away from his roots.
Unlike Luke Donald and Graeme McDowell, Westwood didn’t play college golf in the United States and long resisted the temptation to follow many British and Irish golfers and set up his main base in the golfer’s paradise of Florida.
Instead, his non-tournament time was spent in Worksop, where the weather wasn’t always conducive to practice and the different green speeds forced him to adapt when coming to tour events.
“I was just getting frustrated with the weather in the winters in England, not being able to work as hard as I would like and coming out at the start of the year really rusty,” he said.
“I wanted to come and live in the sunshine.”
Having spent years on the PGA Tour, Westwood is no stranger to the States, and he is familiar with the sporting scene in the country - watching the NBA, the NFL and making sure to correct football to soccer when talking to American reporters.
His main concern was whether his wife Laurae, and their two children, Sam and Poppy, would feel at home in Florida but so far the family is adapting well.
“Everyone is loving it so far, my family have settled in well which was my main worry really, that the kids weren’t going to settle at school, but they have lots of friends already,” he said.
Victory on Sunday would surely help the entire process but Westwood’s broader goal is to add considerably to his two wins on the PGA Tour.
“I’ve got 40 career wins and only two of them in the States, I need to try and change that,” he said.
“I have put myself in position a lot but I just haven’t finished it off. Hopefully having moved here and given myself more opportunities to play here and feeling more ‘at the party’, I can start winning more.” (Reporting By Simon Evans)