Westwood enlists Big Sam to rediscover form
Thursday 01 June 2006
Desperate golfers will resort to all sorts of remedies to rediscover their game; those such as Paul McGinley join in events such as this Wales Open, while others such as Lee Westwood simply join Bolton Wanderers.
But then, when someone as convincing as Sam Allardyce is promising to have you back to your best for the Ryder Cup you tend to listen. What is not good enough for England, palpably might be for Europe.
The 33-year-old will enrol at the Reebok the week after the Open Championship next month and his manager, Chubby Chandler, believes this renowned arena of scientific know-how could be the perfect environment in which to conquer the malaise that is threatening Westwood's participation in Ian Woosnam's team.
"I was talking to Sam at Old Trafford for the England friendly the other night, telling him how Lee has lost his focus and how he is terrified that he is about to go back to where he was a few years ago, when he fell out of the world's top 250," Chandler said. "Sam's reply was simple - 'Send him to me for a week and I'll sort him out'. I can see it being the making of Lee."
Woosnam hopes so, as should the rest of Europe. Westwood looks a man lost at the moment, having fallen out of the world's top 50 on the back of a dreadful run of form. After missing the cut at last week's BMW Championship, he revealed he would not be at Monday's qualifying for the US Open as he already had a corporate day in America booked, and on Tuesday his commitment again came under scrutiny when he withdrew from the Memorial tournament in Ohio, despite being on his way to the States.
Apart from Westwood's paranoia about dipping into another dramatic slump, Chandler talked of another reason for this seemed indifference. Chandler's illustrious stable also includes Darren Clarke, whose wife, Heather, continues her fight with cancer.
"He and Darren have become very close over the last nine months and it's been very deflating for Lee, as it has for all us who are close to them," explained Chandler.
"Whenever they're playing America, no one wants to ask Darren how Heather is for obvious reasons, so Lee fields all the questions. It's bound to affect you."
McGinley is also part of Team Chandler and has admitted in the past how distraught the Clarkes' plight has made him. "Perspective" is the word he has often used when asked about it and the Irishman has needed plenty of that in the last fortnight as he has rushed back from a fifth knee operation in an effort to secure his Ryder Cup place.
"I feel it's strong enough to take a chance and play here in Newport this week," McGinley said. Big Sam would have nodded in approval.
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