Westwood eager to escape from Birkdale's ill winds

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The Independent Online

Lee Westwood admitted it would be a relief to leave windy Royal Birkdale after finishing the Open 20 shots over par. The Ryder Cup star struggled on the greens all week, making just four birdies in 72 holes with two of those coming in his final three-over-par round of 73.

"It will be a relief to get away from here," said the Worksop golfer. "I can't remember four more taxing days. It has been pretty brutal out there. It wasn't great first thing Thursday morning – it was freezing and you don't expect that in July. It has not really eased up all week. But I've been beaten up by the putter. I can handle the weather and I have played pretty well tee to green, but it is just demoralising when you don't turn your good shots into birdies. I three-putted the first three holes the first day and that set the tone. I didn't have a lot of confidence on the greens coming here, but that made it even worse.

"It is never easy when you are getting blown about all over the place. You need to feel you are stroking the ball solidly because you are being buffeted around."

He will now spend time working on his game before heading out to Akron, Ohio, for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, which starts at the end of this month.

"Today I've missed a few short ones, four or five inside five feet, and I'm just not making anything long," said the 35-year old. "I have to work on that. It will be a bit calmer and it will be a bit quicker at Bridgestone in a couple of weeks' time."

Colin Montgomerie took heart from Greg Norman's performance after finishing joint 58th. Montgomerie revealed recently that he planned to retire at the age of 52, but saw 53-year-old Norman finish third after going into the final round with a two-shot lead.

Asked if he was encouraged by Norman's performance, Montgomerie replied: "Very much. It proves this game has longevity that other sports don't have. Other sports we'd be long gone. It proves if you keep yourself in shape like he's done and are mentally aware it's possible. In these conditions he's got the shots, he's proved it over the years."

Speaking after a closing round of 76, the 45-year-old Scot added: "I don't know what you can take out of this week. Driving home tonight I'll have a think but there's nothing really I can take. I didn't do anything particularly well. It wasn't easy, it was a difficult week.

"Never once did you hit a shot that you would do normally. It was difficult all round so those who have kept it around par have done very, very well."

Simon Wakefield was left feeling flat after a disastrous inward half of 43 saw him plummet out of contention. The 34-year-old from Newcastle-under-Lyme had been one off the lead after 11 holes of his final round.

"I'm extremely disappointed. I played not as well as the first three days but good enough out there," said the nephew of the former England wicketkeeper Bob Taylor who has yet to win on the European Tour since his debut eight years ago.

"My game's good enough and it's the first time I've ever faltered under the pressure."