DORAL, Fla. — Lee Westwood’s LIV golf season ended Saturday when his Majesticks team was defeated 3-0 by Smash in a three-match format, with Westwood losing 4 and 2 to one of the series’ hottest players, Peter Uihlein .
It was a heavy blow for Westwood but at the same time it was a great season as he was always the perfect player for LIV Golf.
At 49, the former number 1 in the world rankings. 1 has been playing professional golf since 1993, the same year that “Frasier” debuted on NBC and “Jurassic Park” grossed as a top box office hit.
In his 30th year on the ropes, Westwood slowed significantly and, like many players his age, began to look to the future and what some would describe as an exit strategy.
The PGA Tour Champions was an option, but not a permanent one after Westwood learned of the numerous Pro-Ams and small amounts of money involved in the purses.
The Legends Tour, the senior tour of the DP World Tour, has even less cash in its wallet, leaving Westwood to look for alternatives.
Captain and owner of Majesticks Golf Club was never in sight until the time was right, and the money up front was nothing to sneeze at.
“I changed that to ‘What do you want to do when you’re done playing?'” Westwood said, which was the standard question asked by friends. “And the standard quote from everyone in my position is that it involves a little bit of course design, TV commentary and maybe a few events for seniors. No one ever said get into a franchise and keep playing.”
That’s where Westwood finds himself in Miami this week, the best of both worlds, still a player and a franchise owner.
When Westwood created his Majesticks franchise, he formed three equal partnerships with teammates Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson.
All three have an equal share of the franchise and they have signed a fourth player, Sam Horsfield, with all four suspended with LIV and the Majesticks until the 2025 season.
Westwood captained most of the season and Poulter took over the role this week as he wanted to play other captains in a match-play format. Poulter defeated Iron Heads’ Kevin Na on Friday but lost to Smash’s Brooks Koepka on Saturday.
“I think when you work, you have to do your work in a way that fits into your own life,” Westwood said of his decision to take the step. “Obviously it’s about cash, I kept saying as I stood in front of everyone at a Kiawah Island press conference [at the 2021 PGA Championship]if someone comes before me with that much money, it’s child’s play for me.”
He earned more than $3.5 million from the first seven LIV golf events and ranked 17th in the individual money list.
In 2023, the Englishman will be focused on playing across multiple tours when he turns 50 in April: the 14 events he’s signed to LIV Golf in, but also events on the DP World Tour and the Legends Tour, as well as major championships including US senior majors.
Ironically, the Legends Tour is courting Westwood for next season.
“They asked me to play a couple, amazing,” Westwood said. “That regular (DP World) tour trying to ban meand the Legends Tour texted me asking if I was going to play and said they have a budget to pay me, it’s all that messed up.
One of the benefits Westwood has drawn from his time at LIV is the closeness and brotherhood that has developed through all the noise from outside.
What Westwood calls a “backlash” driven by certain parts of the media, certain players and people on the PGA Tour and DP World Tour has brought all players together.
And in return, the 48 feels more like family.
“I know Bryson, I know Phil, I know DJ a lot better than I used to,” Westwood said. We’ve all gotten a lot closer. We mix a lot more. It reminds me of the European Tour 25 years ago. You know, that kind of camaraderie.”