Lee Westwood feeling ‘drained’ but relishing challenge of Honda Classic

Lee Westwood admits he is feeling jaded after his recent exploits and a trip to Augusta National but never contemplated skipping this week’s Honda Classic.

Westwood followed a tie for 61st in the WGC-Workday Championship with runners-up finishes in both the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Players Championship, where he held one and two-shot leads respectively after 54 holes.

The 47-year-old then played 36 holes at Augusta on Monday and another 18 on Tuesday with his son Sam, who will caddie for him this week at Palm Beach Gardens and also in the Masters in April.

“I’m a little bit tired, I must admit,” Westwood told a pre-tournament press conference. “I feel a little bit drained. My legs are feeling it a little bit.

“I played Augusta on Monday and Tuesday, as well and we ended up playing 36 holes on Monday, which is not the easiest walk around there, and then 18 holes yesterday morning. So I’ve played a lot of golf recently.

“I suppose I’m not expecting too much this week, but I don’t know what to expect from myself at the moment. I’m obviously coming off two good results and my game feels good.

“I’m putting well and, you know, if I’m feeling all right tomorrow, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t play well. I play well around this golf course. I finished fourth here last year and it’s a course that sets up well for me, so I’m looking forward to it.

“I think you can draw on any good performances you have around any golf courses really. It gives you good feelings, good emotions for a place, and I certainly have that here.

“I used to live just across the road at Old Palm, so it was a bit of a home game, and I’ve got a lot of friends in this area that might come out and support as well.”

Such factors meant that Westwood was determined to fulfil his commitment to the event and test himself against ‘The Bear Trap’, the name given to the difficult 15th, 16th and 17th holes on the Jack Nicklaus-designed PGA National course.

Lee Westwood
Lee Westwood celebrates after a birdie on the 18th hole during the final round of The Players Championship (Gerald Herbert/AP)

“I never felt like skipping it or thought about it,” Westwood added. “I’ve got a good relationship with Ken Kennerly, tournament director, and he’s been kind enough to give me invites in the past. He gave me one for this week, but I ended up not needing it through a good finish at Bay Hill.

“It’s one of my favourite tournaments of the year as well. I really enjoy this golf course. I find it a good challenge. There’s a lot of shots out there where you’ve really got to commit and play the shot. I love the challenge of the Bear Trap. It’s always a bit blowy, which I like as well.

“This is a tough mental test, probably the toughest of the lot, I’d say, and the most mentally challenging part of it as well is at the end of it. Yeah, I’m feeling a bit jaded, but hopefully pull myself together and get ready for tomorrow.”