We were playing a 2-day tournament and on the first day, on the short Par 3 second, we ended up in the water short of the green. So on the second day, we sought revenge. 105 yards to the front pin on a severely downhill green, going for the flag was flirting with the water. So we took a 9-iron to avoid the disaster from yesterday. A high shot not only crossed the water, but was on the putting surface 12 feet below the hole. I could have easily rolled down to the bottom tier and that would have been 3-putt territory. A straight uphill putt just squeezed in the hole for a Birdie. Sweet revenge.
On the Par 5 fourth at Lotus Hill, China, we hit a straight drive down the middle but our 5-wood sliced into the rough. There were many trees, but fortunately we had a line of sight to the flag, 100 yards away to the elevated green. But we couldn’t take the high route as some trees were in the way, so we had to go low. We took a 5-iron and planned to run it up to the green. But there was too much rough and to clear it, a 5-iron would not hold. So we switched to a 7-iron and hit the perfect punch shot, which landed just short of the green and clear of the rough. And one hop, skip and jump later, I landed seven feet from the hole, pin high! A slight downhill left to right putt landed a very remarkable Birdie.
If there has been one golfer during the last 10 years who has consistently put his hand up during the weekend of a major it’s Lee Westwood. Unfortunately the hand that shoots up quickest in the major classroom frequently comes out with the wrong answer. He is a winner of 39 professional tournaments, has spent 17 weeks as world number one and played in 6 winning Ryder Cup teams. This stellar record masks the fact that Lee Westwood doesn’t have what it takes to win a major championship, and here’s why:
His putting is consistently poor
Despite moving to America full time to play on the PGA Tour, Westwood still can’t putt. His unrivalled ball striking and accuracy doesn’t help when it comes to finishing up holes with his putter. Westwood is only 168th in Strokes Gained Putting and 153rd in holing putts from inside 10ft. To win majors he must putt better than everyone else for that week. Clutch putts must go in and a fair share of longer ones too, yet Westwood never seems to make them.
He has had a number of coaches too, all of whom are aware of his sub-standard putting stroke; Phil Kenyon, Pete Cowan, Dave Stockton, Bob Rotella, Ian Baker-Finch and now Sean Foley. Whether Westwood talks up his putting or not, the stats don’t lie. He’s employed the best putting coaches, the best coaches and the best mental coach in the last five years and he still ranks among the poorest putters on Tour.
He has a one-dimensional game
For three days at the Open this year Westwood found his touch with the putter only to be let down by the skill his career has been defined by. Lee hits fairways and greens – everyone acknowledges his ball striking as among the best on either Tour. He has built his career as being solid, dependable and consistent.
With a two shot lead going into the final round his game plan looked defensive. It also looked toothless after missing every fairway on the front nine. It turns out that you can’t win a major by playing out of the rough – unless your name is Seve or Tiger. When Westwood resorts to relying on his putter to rescue him, the writing is already on the wall.
He doesn’t possess an inner-winner
Some players just don’t have convincing self-belief. When Sergio Garcia came out with his outlandish statement of not being good enough to win a major, we took it with a pinch of salt. If Westwood had said it, we might believe it. Whereas Sergio might be regarded as having an aggressive, prickly character you can picture him using it to win. Westwood’s character is a nervous smile; he appears bashful, almost apologetic in nature.
As a ball striker Westwood is arguably a better player, than six-time major winner, Nick Faldo ever was, but players were intimidated by Faldo’s presence, and when given an opportunity, Faldo always took it. No one is intimidated by Lee Westwood.
Phil Mickelson epitomises a winner. Far from being defensive, when winning at Muirfield, he played his shots on their merits, shying away from nothing. Mickelson won because he believed he could. In his 2010 Masters win he played a shot that defined his career – choosing a five iron to hit his second, through a small gap in the trees to a tight pin, tucked just over a creek on a par five…and making it. Can anyone imagine Lee Westwood doing the same?
History always repeats itself
An old history teacher once taught me that in order to predict the future, we must first look at the past. Westwood has had 5 Top 3 finishes in majors and never once grasped the opportunity with both hands. As Aesop famously said, a leopard can’t change its spots.
Not at his age
At forty, age is not on Westwood’s side. Only six players have ever captured their first major over the age of forty in the modern era:
- Darren Clarke (42), 2011 Open
- Roberto de Vincenzo (44), 1967 Open
- Jerry Barber (44), 1961 US PGA
- Tom Kite (42), 1992 US Open
- Mark O’Meara (41) 1998 Masters
- Tommy Bolt (40), 1958 US Open
In Lee Westwood’s lifetime there have only been three players who have done it.
Lee Westwood will never win a major, his consistency is his Achilles heel. Shooting four good rounds just isn’t enough, he needs to shoot a great one in there too. There are just too many factors counting against Westwood at this stage in his career. Sure he’ll probably be in the reckoning again sometime, but with little major success to draw on, poor putting, advancing years and a lack of self-belief, it seems unlikely that he will ever get to don a Green Jacket or lift the Claret Jug, and for a career as good as Lee’s that has to be seen as a disappointment.
This guest post was written by Stewart Probert from Sweetwoods Golf Club.
It was R’s Birthday and we played the new Rose / Poulter Course at Mission Hills, China. The new design replaced the old Duval Course and there seems to be many more bunkers, although the layout seemed vaguely familiar. On the Par 3 8th, there was a strong left to right wind that prompted us to aim way left of the flag. But our 6-iron hit a slight fade, ok it was a big fade, that made the green, but we were 48 feet from the hole. Moreover, there was a bank with a severe right to left break that we had to negotiate. Taking a huge amount of break, I ran up the bank and rolled nicely down towards the hole…smack right into it! Amazing! Couldn’t have thought of another way to wish R a Happy Birthday
Maasai Mara national reserve is one of the most loved destination in Kenya, the reserve is situated in the Rift valley and it bounder Tanzania’s Serengeti national park. The natural vegetation is grassland savanna with cool environment that is very refreshing especially when traveling.