Lee Westwood: My near miss at The Open takes me closer to first major - Golf - Sport - The Independent

Lee Westwood: My near miss at The Open takes me closer to first major

Briton says that improved equipment and fitness mean he can have many more shots at a big one

Lee Westwood has revealed the exact moment at Muirfield on Sunday when he realised that his chances of achieving his long-awaited first major title had slipped away.

But rather than resent the late charge through the leaderboard by Phil Mickelson he believes the American’s performance is evidence that his own time to win one of golf’s big four annual tournaments will still come.

Having had 48 hours to analyse the dramatic events on the southern bank of the Firth of Forth, Westwood said yesterday: “I realised the tournament had got away from me on the 15th green.

“Phil was going up the last at that stage at two-under and that’s not the easiest par. I was on level and hit the ball straight at the pin at 15 and got a bit unlucky, but still had a birdie run at it.

“But then I’d heard he’d birdied 18 and then I missed my birdie putt, I was three behind and thought ‘well, these last three holes aren’t really all birdie chances’.

“And I bogeyed 16. I just struggled into the wind all week. I bet you of all the bogeys I made all bar one were on holes into the wind. I just get a bit scrappy. I wasn’t anywhere near my A game.”

Ironically, Westwood was talking at the Close House Hotel near Newcastle where his first venture into course design was being unveiled. But there was no hint that, at the age of 40, he is imminently considering a full-time career switch in the golf industry.

Having seen Mickelson pick up his first Claret Jug at the age of 43, the Briton believes he could be competing for majors for another decade. “Players are looking after themselves now,” Westwood said.

“Technology has helped to a certain extent. Twenty years ago you got to 40 and your game started to drop off because technology didn’t help at all. I think I’m quite mentally strong to keep ploughing away. Mentally strong or just thick really.

“Look at Miguel  Angel Jimenez, he was leading the Open at 49 and he’d just broken his leg! Why put age limits on it all? Now I don’t think it’s a case of if you are physically fit. It’s if you are mentally thick.

“If you still have the hunger for it and the resilience or whether you just toss it in. But I don’t see finishing third in the Open as a career nearly over. That’s more like, ‘Oh, I’ve still got it’.

“What do I do? Walk away, when I’ve had so many top threes in the last few years? Twelve years ago I was playing crap and that’s when you are really frustrated and feel like walking away. Not when you’re having top threes in major championships. You don’t feel like walking away then. You feel like finding that little bit where you need to improve.”

Westwood did admit that one day he would like to become a European Ryder Cup captain but for the immediate future working on his golf ahead of next month’s Bridgestone WGC and the USPGA Championship – the final major of the year– remain his priority.

And having had a 45-minute putting lesson with the 1991 Open Champion, Australia’s Ian Baker-Finch, before travelling to Muirfield he believes he has turned an important corner in his career.

“I’m pleased I’ve turned my putting and short game around,” he said. “That’s the best I’ve putted in quite a while over three or four consecutive days. Even on Sunday, I putted nice.”

Suggested Topics
News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week