• ESPN Sports Personality of the Year

Lee Westwood - The man that dethroned Tiger

Alex Livie December 17, 2010

At 6 in our list for ESPN Sports Personality of the Year is Lee Westwood - the man who became the world's best golfer on one leg.

Winning a Ryder Cup and ending the season as the world No. 1 is some achievement, but Lee Westwood may well look back on 2010 as one of frustration. The Worksop man has hauled himself up from the lows of languishing outside the world's top 250 through sheer hard work and he has been rewarded with wins all over the globe. He ended 2009 with Race to Dubai victory and carried the momentum into 2010. With Tiger Woods tied up in off-course issues, the path was clear for someone to dethrone the 14-time major winner.

Phil Mickelson was expected to be the man to take on the baton but, despite a major win at the Masters, his season was dogged by inconsistency. That is not a word you could use to describe Westwood's year as he started the season with top-three finishes in Qatar and Dubai and it continued. It took the unpredictable brilliance of Mickelson to thwart Westwood at Augusta, a stunning iron from behind the trees on the 13th that was arguably the shot of the year, took the wind out of the Brit's sails and he was beaten into second place.

Westwood continued to rack up strong finishes and he claimed fourth behind Tim Clark at the Players Championship, before his only win of the year at the St Jude Classic. Victory at Southwind in early June was expected to be the catalyst for a strong summer, but after finishing second behind Louis Oosthuizen at The Open Westwood's season was derailed by a leg injury.

It's a dream everyone has to say there is nobody better than me at the moment

"I will be out for as long as it takes to get better," he said when confirming he would not be taking part in the US PGA Championship. "I'm finding it hard to hold my weight on it and then push off."

Such was the problem, Westwood did not return to action until the Ryder Cup. Despite being short of sharpness and clearly still far from 100 per cent fit, he picked up two-and-a-half points as Europe secured a brilliant win over USA.

A sight of a limping Westwood at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship was a disappointing one and after completing his round, he headed for another spell on the sidelines. And while out of action, the vagaries of the world ranking system saw Westwood dislodge Woods at the top of the standings.

"It's a dream everyone has to say there is nobody better than me at the moment," he said. "You have to say it's a highlight. It's a great honour and a big responsibility."

A strong finish to the year, with a second placing at the WGC-HSBC Champions followed by a third place at the Dubai Desert Classic and win in the Nedbank Challenge ensured Westwood would end the year as the best player on the planet.

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Alex Livie Close
Alex Livie was editor of ESPN.co.uk