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Westwood looking to star in golf's Big Bang

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Iain Carter | 20:36 UK time, Tuesday, 30 March 2010

As unexpected conversation pieces go this was right up there for Lee Westwood. He wasn't anticipating the chat to veer towards seriously advanced physics, but the Large Hadron Collider experiment suddenly sprang to mind.

While those boffins in Switzerland seek the origins of the universe it seems the various atoms that make up the golfing cosmos are on a collision course to create the sport's own Big Bang at the Masters next week.

Has there been before a more exciting build-up to the first major of the year? It is hard to remember one and Westwood acknowledges the buzz that's around at the moment with Tiger Woods set to return.

"I don't know about that machine, but it is all coming together," said the world number four. "We've got the best player in the world coming back, we've got a guy who's been one of the best players in the world in Ernie Els striking good form and we've got a lot of good young players on the scene.

lhc_blog.jpgTiger's return to golf - a bigger bang than the Large Hadron Collider experiment? - photo: PA

"The game of golf and any of the tours are very competitive at the moment. Certainly for me I'm very excited with the form I'm showing and with the tournaments coming up. It's a good time to be watching golf and playing it."

Westwood is here in Texas for the Houston Open looking to take advantage of the tough nature of the Redstone course and the greens which will run fast and firm to try to replicate the conditions players will face at Augusta next week.

But he already has a good idea of what to expect having spent the last two days at the home of the Masters. It's the first time he has made such a visit in preparation for the tournament and he wishes he had done it before.

"It was quite eye opening really, to go and play the golf course and do it without anybody there, no prying eyes and being able to just wander round there. The people there are great and they make you feel welcome and it's nice that they let you go out on the hallowed turf and prepare for the Masters.

"You get an appreciation of how big it is and what a large scale golf course it is. It feels a lot more compact when the Masters is being played there because there are 30,000 people in there taking up a lot of space. You get a feel for just what a great place it is and what a privilege it is to play it."

Although the crowds weren't at Augusta there were plenty of players on recce missions.

Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter and the resurgent Els have been among those in attendance.

Els will be competing in Houston seeking to maintain his new found confidence following his Bay Hill victory which provided his second title in his last two starts.

Mickelson is also in the field here, desperately keen to ignite a stuttering start to 2010.

There will also be plenty of interest in 50-year-old Fred Couples who returns to the PGA Tour in Houston after a hat-trick of victories on the US Champions' Tour.

westwood_blog.jpgWestwood is in confident mood ahead of the Masters - photo: Getty

He couldn't win a second green jacket, could he? There are many golf observers in these parts who believe it is possible given the standard of the popular American's play of late.

"I believe Freddie still has the game to compete at Augusta and maybe even win," said Paul Casey. The possibility provides yet another delicious sub-plot to throw into the golfing mix at the moment.

For British fans it is even more enticing with Casey, the defending champion here in Houston, Poulter and Westwood among several potential home winners.

Waiting for the Masters to come around, Westwood admits, has made him a bit like a child waiting for Christmas.

The reason has been his stellar form over a sustained period. "Not just from winning the Race to Dubai, but also my last two major results, third at the Open and a good finish at the US PGA, I've been looking forward to the next major for quite some time now," he said.

"There's an eager sense of anticipation waiting for the big one to come around and you try and play it calm and not get too wound up too early. It's a fine line and a balancing act."

The 36-year-old from Worksop has never been better equipped to deal with such mental pressures. Westwood seems very content within himself and with where his career is at the moment.

He's even prepared to tolerate ridiculous questions about Swiss big bang experiments.


  • Comment number 1.

    Isn't Boffin a rather old-fashioned term? Did the LHC create a rip in the space-time continuum sending us all back to the '40s.

  • Comment number 2.

    People often think of physics as an abstract thing which does not effect their lives. Golfers should however realise the benefits of a little knowledge of simple physics. For those who are interested there is 'Newton of the tee' by John Zumerchik.

  • Comment number 3.

    Iain, excuse my ignorance but Physics isn't one of my strong points so i will renege from commenting. It wouldn't surprise me if the Pro's you are talking to would have an opinion on this matter... Although, not sure if anyone would understand. they are all full of it!!!

    To the beloved Masters...

    Great to hear that all of our boys practising at Augusta during there time off. This is one that I don't quite understand. With no changes and even when they do they are so subtle that it takes you looking at previous years notes to seek them out. Do you not feel that some of them are over preparing. Many of them have played there dozens of times before. I feel that they get caught up in it all. As the year progresses, they don't go out there way to seek practice rounds at the US Open, Open or the PGA. Over analysing will inevitably be the downfall of the British Golfer. It hasn't worked since 1996 and I feel that it may be as long as another 14 years till we get a British victory.

    As for Freddie, its horses for courses and even at the age of 50 he has a chance. Almost 25 years playing Augusta he must think that he has a chance himself. Nothing like winning to breed confidence.

    I hope Im wrong and we see a British victory!

  • Comment number 4.

    Looking forward to The Masters, and have to say I think it will be a better tournament with Tiger back becuase, when a Brit wins, it will be a better win with Tiger in the field. I'm hoping Donlad, Poulter, Westwood or Paul Casey can do the business!

    What I want to know is, why hasn't Lee been on 606 lately, he played some great golf when he was reading our tips for him!

  • Comment number 5.

    Shame to see the BBC's 'Masters Preview' programme has turned into a summary of the previous years event! Is this something to do with budget cuts? - must be dissappointing for certain ex-footballers etc who used to get to swan around the hallowed fairways for free!

  • Comment number 6.

    Good piece, Iain. More on Rory McIlroy's visit to Augusta National on

    Good for the British golfers to be getting as much familiarity with the course, and any subtle changes, that they can. There's only a narrow window during which they can play Augusta National and good for them to take the opportunity.
    If Westwood's short game is back to his Dubai standard, he must have a great chance this week.

  • Comment number 7.

    Must admit, I'm getting excited. This has the potential to be a classic, Tiger's return, Els on a charge, Couples on a charge, Westwood excited, Poulter excited, McIlroy excited, Mickelson close to clicking, Duval back in the field for first time in years and the course has been set up similar to last year to retain the 'birdie roars'.

    What adds to the occassion is this weeks event has been deliberatley set up by the hosts as a master preparation event, rather than being a distraction so really it all starts tomorrow night.

    Add into the mix a double bank holiday weekend....... Fantastic!

  • Comment number 8.

    Nostalgia plays no part in majors; so anyone who thinks that Fred Couples has the slightest chance of winning at Augusta is simply deluding themselves. As for the British challenge, it can hardly have been any stronger and like most bloggers I hope that any one of them can come home at the top of the pile. Casey, Westwood and Poulter are all capable, but I fear that Donald and the others may not quite have what it takes.
    I'd love McIlroy to win, but there are still too many stray shots over the course of 4 rounds. His time will come.
    I think that Oliver Wilson will have a solid championship; however I don't believe he is capable of winning an event of this magnitude (unlike Messrs Carter and McCrackin who tipped him for a recent WGC event, where he ended up in the last 2 or 3 places!).
    Any European win would be great; British even better; Scottish and I'd be in heaven!! Come on Sandy Lyle; you can do it! (What was it I said about Couples again?)

  • Comment number 9.

    dundee_neil wrote "Nostalgia plays no part in majors; so anyone who thinks that Fred Couples has the slightest chance of winning at Augusta is simply deluding themselves"

    I bet folk would have thought that of Tom Watson before last years Open Championship too :)

  • Comment number 10.

    Just a couple of observations on No. 9; firstly, Watson didn't win, Cink did; secondly, Watson is one of the all-time greats of the game, Couples, despite being a very good pro, is nowhere near that!

  • Comment number 11.

    #10 dundee_neil has a fair point, Watson flourished at Turnberry as he had warm memories from winning the Open & Senior Open there and with the unique nature of links golf and his expertise at it, he could compete.

    For Couples, although he has winning memories at Augusta, the demands of the course may be asking too much. I mentioned him in my post as it's another interesting factor in this already interesting tournament. Anyone have a feeling for a winner? I'm thinking someone unexpected (outside the worlds top 10) might come through.

  • Comment number 12.

    The knowledge gained from the LHC will far outstrip anything we learnt from the space programme but it's not obligatory to be interested - I am sure there were some people who found the first moon landing boring.

    I would like to see one of Westwood, Els, Casey, Harrington, Garcia, Donald or Jaidee win it but if it has to be an American, Couples would be my favourite.

  • Comment number 13.

    Don't knock the guys for practising on the course. This is a biggee.
    More strength to their elbow. They are out there not afraid to be seen to be trying as hard as they can to win the thing. Go get it guys. We'll be with you all the way.

  • Comment number 14.

    Rankis Recent history suggests you might be right - no one really saw a Cabrera win (yes a US Open champion, but didn't bring any form to Augusta last year) or Immelman or Johnson as potential winners prior to last three tournaments. Just spoke to Freddie, who is very comfortable with being listed among the favourites this year - says he just needs to retain his putting form. He'll play warm up round with Tiger on Monday.

  • Comment number 15.

    Good point Iain about Cabrera et al. It certainly isn't beyond the realms of possibility that someone could slip in under the radar and take home the Green Jacket; but come on now not Fred Couples surely? (by the way, nice name drop.) Couples is in no way a favourite. Odds of 100/1 against say it all. The bookies don't get often get it wrong. Fred's chances are slim to say the least. He would do well to make the most of his practice round with Tiger on Monday, as it will probably be the closest he'll get to him all week.
    Geoff Ogilvy and Bob Allenby are certainly the type of players that have the quality to win at Augusta in the same kind of unfancied manner that you mentioned with Cabrera, Johnson and Immelman.

  • Comment number 16.


    I am attending the Masters this year for the 6th year in a row! The joy of marrying a Georgia Peach whose family have attended every tournament since the late 1950's!!

    My wife works for the US Army so I have even got a suite at Ft Gordon for 89 bucks a night so I don't have to put up with the Mother in Law lol!

    So where are the best watering holes to see some of the players etc, this year is going to be completely mad, cant wait fly out on Tuesday!

    I think Padraig is going to do it, one of the longest hitters in the game and was certainly top of that Stat 2 years ago, doing his usual thing of building up quietly but I see playing well yesterday! I also fancy the chances of Tim Clark, always performs with credit at this event.

    Bob P

  • Comment number 17.


    I'm just hoping for a good showing from any of the brits and hopefully one can win it. I would love a brit to win any year but it would be extra special this year as my Dad and me are travelling to Augusta on Monday to attend the Wednesday practise rounds/Par 3 comp as well as attending the final day on Sunday.Come on!!!!!!!



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