Two missed cuts and a poor Ryder Cup show prompted Lee Westwood to seek solace from some vintage displays captured on film and the blast from the past worked a treat at the British Masters on Thursday.
Buoyed by a birdie three at his first hole, the par-four 10th, the former world No 1 shrugged off the wintry weather at The Grove to surge through the field with a four-under-par 67 in the opening round.
“I've been working on a couple of things on my swing, trying to get a swing thought, looking back at old videos when I played well and got in good positions,” Westwood said. “I managed to implement that today. That's what golfers do, they try to remember what they did when they played well and if they have any video on it... try to remember what they were working on.”
Westwood missed the cut at the Italian Open in the middle of September and at last week's Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland. In between, the 43-year-old Englishman was unable to reward captain Darren Clarke for giving him a wildcard pick at the Ryder Cup, failing to win a point in three matches as Europe lost 17-11 to the United States in Minnesota.
Westwood believes he let down his good friend Clarke “a little bit” at Hazeltine National. “I was a captain's pick and would have liked to have performed well for him,” he explained.
Westwood, whose British Masters victory in 2007 is one of 23 European Tour wins he has achieved, said he had to tinker with his plans at The Grove due to the plunging temperatures in the south of England. “It's cold... you've got to adapt and judge how far the irons are going to go,” he added. “You can see on the range that the ball is not flying that far because it's heavy and wet and chilly in the morning.”
A capacity crowd of 20,000 turned out for the first round thanks to free tickets dished out by the organisers. “The British public are great at supporting events and this one is no different,” said Westwood. “It's nice that they are giving away free tickets... it's furthering golf hopefully to get people involved.”
Meanwhile, Westwood's Ryder Cup team-mate Danny Willett pulled out of the event because of a bad back, organisers said. The 29-year-old Englishman, who was due to partner fellow countryman Andrew 'Beef' Johnston and Swede Alex Noren in the first round at The Grove was replaced by South African Justin Walters.
Willett was a centre of attention when Europe lost in Minnesota after his brother criticised the behaviour of American fans before the start of the biennial team event. The player went on to have a debut to forget at Hazeltine National, losing all three of his matches in the competition.Reuse content