Westwood stays positive about his major problem

There is a glaring omission on the English world No 2's career CV. He is confident this US Open can remedy it

In the first major Lee Westwood ever played, Arnold Palmer was in the field. Now he's at the 111th US Open and Palmer's grandson is in the field. If that makes the Englishman feel old, then so too must the 14 years which stretch back to his US Open debut here at this exclusive country club 10 miles west of Washington DC.

Back then, Westwood was a 24-year-old with one European Tour title and not much of an idea of what to expect at the game's most demanding major. "It was a lot more difficult than I thought it was going to be," he reflected yesterday. "You know, the toughness of a US Open set-up takes you by surprise when you've never played it before. It was quite wet, there wasn't a lot of run on the fairways and it played long. In light of how I felt, I did all right."

Actually, as conditions were so alien to that wet-behind-the-eared lad from Worksop, Westwood did rather better than all right, finishing tied for 19th, alongside a certain Tiger Woods. The next year he finished seventh; two years later he was up to fifth. The progression to a first major was steady and surely inexorable for Westwood.

Yet here he is, almost a decade and a half later, ranked second in the world and the question of "When?" still frames his golfing existence. With top-three finishes in each of the four majors in the last three seasons, few will raise an argument to the fact he's getting closer. But as he goes into his 39th year, time is quite clearly another foe to be outshot. Will Congressional witness the overdue breakthrough?

Westwood has neither the inclination nor the brashness to launch such a claim, but his swagger yesterday was obvious as he boomed his drives past those of his practice partner, Ian Poulter. Never mind the form guide which shows a tie for 11th in Memphis on Sunday preceded by two firsts and an already legendary play-off defeat to Luke Donald at Wentworth, Westwood is on the field of his dreams. "This is one of my favourite golf courses and probably one of the toughest and best tests if you're looking for an all-round player," he said.

Westwood happens to believe he is one of the best all-round players and the stats only back up this conviction. "My confidence is pretty high," he said. "The major championships really now are the most exciting part of the year and the ones I look forward to most. Everything in my schedule is built around them."

Yet is there a mental hurdle he must cross as well, the unseen obstacle which has so far kept him from the entry his CV deserves? As a Nottinghamshire pragmatist, Westwood does not subscribe to X-factors, karma or the like. To him it is simple: "It's a challenge that I've got to try and overcome and just do a little bit better at the right times. There's no secret ingredient to it. I keep getting myself in position and it's just a case of finishing it off."

Neither, insisted Westwood, are the repeated frustrations threatening to drag his chances under. He is steadfastly refusing to allow the negative to take over his narrative. "If you're any good and mentally right, you take the positives out of anything, even when you maybe finish second and you thought you should have won one of these," he said. "I think I've managed to do that over the last few years.

"That's why I have, say, a second place at Turnberry [that] I followed up with a third place at the USPGA and then eight months after that a second place in the Masters again, and keep getting into contention, and then again at the Open last year at St Andrews, second again. I seem to be responding well to those experiences and coming out of it positively."

So Westwood is prepared for the usual examination when he tees off on Thursday. He will do so in the company of Donald and the world No 3, Martin Kaymer, as the USPGA ensures the spotlight shines brightest on the game's top three. It will be just the latest test to see if he can continue to handle the major glare. And at last emerge into the sunlight.

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
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