Westwood looking for balancing act

Lee Westwood is determined to balance his preparations for the Masters with his chase for a first US title in a dozen years.

European number one Lee Westwood is determined to balance his preparations for next week’s Masters with his chase for a first US title in a dozen years as he heads into Friday’s second round at the Shell Houston Open.
England’s world number four, along with Ireland’s Padraig Harrington, is two shots behind co-leaders Cameron Percy of Australia and American Kevin Stadler following an opening-round, three-under-par 69 at Redstone Golf Club in Humble, Texas.
And while Westwood said he was happy to be coming into form approaching the first major of the year and on a course set up to help preparations for Augusta National, a first victory on American soil since his 1998 PGA Tour win at the Freeport-McDermott Classic in New Orleans is just as important an objective.
“You don’t really want to be playing shots from around the edge on this golf course,” Westwood said. “You want to hit as many greens as possible. That’s great to have a chance to win the tournament, which is my priority for this week.
“The Shell Houston Open is a big title to win. Lot of things for the tournament. Good champions. I’ve never won it. Twelve years since I’ve won in the States.
“My main priority this week is to do well in this tournament, but at the same time a good warm-up for the next week. The speed of the greens are similar. Gives you a test with some shots we might have next week.”
Westwood, 37 at the end of this month, insisted his 12-year American drought had not unduly disturbed him.
“I only play eight, nine events here every year,” the Englishman said. “I feel like I would have won more recently. I’ve had my chances.
“I’ve spent a couple of years in Europe without winning. It’s very fickle. All you can do is keep putting yourself in position and get a chance.”
Westwood certainly feels he is both in position and in with a chance in both Texas and at Augusta National, where he played practice rounds last Sunday and Monday, describing his recent play as “very solid”.
He added: “The results haven’t reflected the way I’ve played. I’m happy with the way I’m hitting it. Hopefully, if I can keep playing like that, I’ll have a chance the next couple of weeks.
“It feels good. You know, I think playing at Augusta last week is going to be a big advantage… coming to Augusta from here.”