Westwood weighed down by Ryder Cup
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Saturday 07 September 2002
Lee Westwood gained precious little encouragement for the fast-looming Ryder Cup when he missed the cut in the Omega European Masters yesterday. Such was the Worksop man's disappointment at not being able to complete all four rounds at Crans-sur-Sierre he even muttered darkly about pulling out of next week's German Masters in Cologne, where Padraig Harrington will definitely play to test his ankle and neck injuries.
Since Westwood has slipped to 129th in the world he is not eligible for the following week's AmEx World Championship at Mount Juliet. Should he not go to Cologne, he would then arrive at The Belfry with only two competitive rounds under his belt in the four weeks prior to the match against the Americans.
It is an unlikely scenario but if the idea has any merit it would be in allowing Westwood to continue his hard work – on the range and in the gym, where he has shed several pounds – away from the glare of attention.
After a 74 that left him at three over par, Westwood could only be described as fed up. "I am fairly disappointed," he said. "I hit it crap. I've had to get used to that over the last year." Westwood added: "I'll be glad when the Ryder Cup is over. People put too much emphasis on it. It's one week, a game of golf, and it is meant to be fun. There will be less attention on me afterwards.
"I can't snap my fingers and say I want to play well at the Ryder Cup. Fortunately there are 11 other players who are playing well. I'm trying to get my game right, full stop." On as quirky a course as this, a missed cut here is not as bad as it sounds. There was little danger of Westwood failing to qualify for the weekend until he drove into the trees at the second (his 11th) to drop a shot and then took three putts at the next. Another bogey at the eighth put him out.
"I don't know how he managed to be three over. He played much better than that," said Phillip Price, one of his playing partners. "I felt for him. He played quite nicely early on. It is a case of when you are down nothing seems to go for you. He's down on his luck and not quite on his game.
"He's not playing badly but he is not quite firing and that is frustrating for him. Matchplay could help him because he is playing a lot better than he is scoring." Indeed, with the first series of fourballs kicking off the Friday morning at the Ryder Cup, Westwood might be able to regain some confidence by contributing to the cause while his mistakes would not matter as much as in strokeplay.
Price himself suffered with his form and confidence for a couple of months but after deciding to throw out the new things he was working on and go back to tried and trusted routines he is scoring better again. His 68 yesterday put him at five under par.
Although Robert Karlsson extended his lead to 11-under par with a 66 in which he had birdies at his first three holes and did not drop a shot, Price was only two strokes behind Andrew Coltart and Klas Eriksson in second place. "I played a little better last week and a little better again this week and hopefully I can keep that going," said the Welshman. "I am apprehensive about my form for the Ryder Cup because I want to perform and not just be a holidaymaker."
Nick Faldo dropped back to four under par with a 72 that included a seven at the par-five 14th.
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