Westwood looking to star in golf's Big Bang
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.
Tiger'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.
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 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.