World Golf Recap: Lee Westwood, Lexi Thompson, Ian Poulter Pick Up Wins

Fred Altvater@@tolohgolfrContributor IIDecember 18, 2011

Lee Westwood won in Thailand
Lee Westwood won in ThailandRoss Kinnaird/Getty Images

The 2011 golf season is winding down. 

Luke Donald has all the cash, Tiger Woods got back to the winners circle, Yani dominated the LPGA and Greg Norman lost another Presidents Cup.

There were, however, a few items of golf business left to attend to before Santa comes to town.

Lee Westwood joined a stellar field on the Asian Tour for the inaugural Thailand Golf Championship played on the 7,453-yard Amata Spring Country Club. 

Westwood fired a career low 12-under-par 60 in the opening round on Thursday and never looked back. He followed up his outstanding first round with 64-73-69 = 266 total of 22-under(-par), which bested runner-up Charl Schwartzel by 7 shots.

It was Westwood’s 37th career win and moved him into the No. 2 spot on the Official World Golf Ranking between No. 1 Luke Donald and No. 3 Rory McIlroy.

The Ladies European Tour (LET) held a small shindig in Dubai this week. 

Young upstart Lexi Thompson proved again why the LPGA made a wise decision to allow the 16-year-old to join the LPGA Tour in 2012. 

In September, Lexi became the youngest winner ever on the LPGA Tour when she took home the Navistar Classic crown. 

And now, in winning the Dubai Ladies Masters, she becomes the youngest winner ever on the LET.  She triumphed over a respectable field included several Solheim Cup members from both Europe and the USA. 

16 year old Alexis Thompson won in Dubai
16 year old Alexis Thompson won in DubaiDavid Cannon/Getty Images

Lexi turned in scores of 70-66-70-67= 273 for 15-under-par and won by four strokes.

Thompson does not turn 17 until February of 2012.  But LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan made an exception to allow her membership.

There won’t be any Friday night football games or high school proms for Lexi. 

She is putting the future of the LPGA squarely on her young shoulders and could be the key to bringing the LPGA back to prominence.

At the Australian Masters, always-dressed for success Ian Poulter captured a gold jacket to add to his wardrobe. 

Melbourne home boy Geoff Ogilvy took a two shot lead into the final round after posting an 8-under-par 63 on Saturday.  He could only manage a 73—good enough for third place. 

Poulter drained a 15-foot eagle putt on the very first hole to erase Ogilvy’s lead and turned in a 4-under-par 67 in very windy conditions on Sunday to pick up the win. 

Ian had fallen to No. 28 in the OWGR and this win should get him back into the top 15 heading into the 2012 Ryder Cup year.

This puts a wrap on a very exciting 2011.  Youth was the catch phrase in golf and the trend will undoubtedly continue next year. 

Rory McIlroy, Webb Simpson, Rickie Fowler, Keegan Bradley, and Gary Woodland are just a few of the youngsters on the PGA Tour that should continue to be major factors next year. 

Ian Poulter adds a Gold Jacket to his wardrobe
Ian Poulter adds a Gold Jacket to his wardrobeScott Barbour/Getty Images

Yani Tseng is only 22 years old but her domination of the LPGA is about to be challenged by 17 year old, Lexi Thompson.  Throw in Michelle Wie, Paula Creamer, and a host of young talented Asian players the LPGA should regain some of its audience and badly needed sponsor dollars should follow.

Jack Nicklaus said in a speech last week that golf needs to make some changes. 

He may be right but a resurgent Tiger, a teenage Lexi Thompson and a slightly improving economy might just be what the doctor prescribed for a healthier golf community next year.

I’ll see you all on the “Back 9.”