Westy tired of being a nearly man
World No 2 Lee Westwood has had enough of being one of the nearly men of the majors.
Lee Westwood has had enough of being one of life’s nearly men when it comes to the four biggest tournaments of the year, the majors.
“If somebody had said two years ago that seven of the next eight majors would be won by players previously without one to their name, then Sergio Garcia and Westwood would have been top of the list.
It hasn’t happened for them, although Westwood has come desperately close in the past year or so.
Yes, both have arrived at the Congressional Country Club outside of Washington still majorless as they get ready to tee off in the 111th US Open.
In Garcia’s case, the embattled Spaniard will surely be grateful to be playing after falling so far down the rankings list that he had to go out and find himself a qualifier to get there, but this was certainly not the case for Westwood.
After three third places and two runners-up finishes in his last 11 starts at the US Open it’s hardly surprising to see the stock Englishman up on the Number two rung on the World Ranking list behind compatriot Luke Donald.
However, until he can clinch his first victory in either the USGA’s premier event or in one of the other majors, he will inevitably be tagged with Montgomerie as a perennial nearly man.
Only a week away from his 48th birthday Montgomerie, reduced to a commentating role at the Congressional course where he had one of his most disappointing second places in 1997, knows his time has almost certainly gone.
On the other hand, Westwood, at 38, knows he needs to pull off the difficult trick of remaining patient at the same time as desperately wanting not to waste the next opportunity that comes along.
“It’s a tricky balancing act, going in with expectations but playing with a freedom as well,” said Westwood on his return to the lay-out where he finished 19th on his debut in the event 14 years ago.
“It’s a fine line when you do get really close to it between becoming frustrated, but still seeing the positives in it.
“I feel like my game is good enough and if I just do a few things differently at the right times then it’ll be the difference between a second and a win.
“If you’re a good player you’re going to have disappointments because you’re going to be in contention a lot.
“So that’s all part and parcel of it. As golfers, if you have a successful year we maybe win three times a year – that’s about 10% of the times you play.
“So you get used to not winning and being disappointed; you learn to try and take the positives out of anything, even when you maybe finish second when you thought you should have won.
“You try and look at it on the bright side and I think I’ve probably managed to do that over the last few years.”
Westwood points to the fact that a month after bogeying the last at Turnberry two years ago – it cost him a place in the play-off – he came third in the PGA.
Then the following April it took an inspired display from Phil Mickelson to deny him at The Masters and three months after that he was second again in The Open.
“I seem to be responding well and coming out of it positively, even though obviously I’d love to win one,” he said.
Westwood, 11th in Memphis on Sunday after coming first, first and second in his three previous stroke play events, lost the world number one title to Luke Donald at Wentworth.
That can change again this week and the pair have been drawn together along with third-ranked Martin Kaymer, who could also regain top spot in the rankings if he lands his second major – with Donald’s brother Christian now his caddie for the first time.
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