Connect to share and comment

Golf: Nearly-man Westwood ready for Open triumph

PlacardEnlarge
(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Lee Westwood says he knows what it takes to win a major despite having failed to do so 61 times previously.

The 40-year-old Englishman is in pole position to break his duck at Muirfield on Sunday when he carries a two-stroke lead into the final round of the British Open.

Chasing him will be tied-for-second Americans Tiger Woods and Hunter Mahan, with a batch of golfing big names like Adam Scott, Angel Cabrera, Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia all lurking within range.

Westwood is already firmly established as the nearly-man of world golf with 10 top-10 finishes in his last 20 majors, including runner-up showings at the 2010 Masters and British Open at St Aandrews.

He believes that this time the outcome can be different.

"I've had lots of chances, sometimes I've played well, other times I've played not too well," he said.

"Obviously I had a chance at Turnberry in 2009. I messed up a bit. That can fall back on you, just getting out of the zone, worrying about what other people were doing and not focusing on my own game.

"I felt like I played well when I had a chance at the Masters, and felt like I had a great round.

"So I know what it takes. Even though I haven't won a major, I know what it takes to win one. It's just a case of going out there tomorrow and having the confidence in my game, which I've got. And putting it to the test."

Westwood said he would take confidence from duelling for the lead with Woods throughout Saturday's third round and winning, his suspect short game, and especially his putting, proving to be the key to success.

That, he believes partly comes down to moving his family from England to Florida last winter and a chance meeting with Australia's former Open champion Ian Baker-Finch who has given Westwood some "feel" pointers on the greens.

"I'd hoped that living in that kind of climate and having access to great golf courses and faster greens and stuff like that and practice facilities, that it was going to help my game," he said.

"And so far this year I've contended -- you pick out the big tournaments, which so far for me this year, the Masters, The Players, the US Open and the PGA Championship at Wentworth, I've contended in all of them.

"And now The Open Championship. So you'd have to say it's worked to a certain extent in a positive way for my game."

What remains for him now is to clinch the deal on Sunday and become the first Englishman to win the British Open since Nick Faldo did so, also at Muirfield, in 1992, adding to countryman Justin Rose's US Open triumph last month.

"I'm hoping it's going to turn out differently because I haven't won one (major) yet and I'd like to win one.

"But what can you do? You can only do what you think is right and put all that practice and hard work you've done into practice tomorrow, try not to get in your own way mentally and just focus on the job at hand and believe you're good enough."

ak/dj

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130720/golf-nearly-man-westwood-ready-open-triumph