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What next for Westwood and Woods?

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Iain Carter | 15:31 UK time, Monday, 10 May 2010

There were more questions than answers after the Players Championship where Lee Westwood again failed to secure a big title from a strong position and Tiger Woods withdrew mid-round in a tournament for the first time in his professional career.

A month on from finishing runner-up at the Masters, Westwood put together a disappointing final round that failed to capitalise on holding the 54 hole lead.

Woods, meanwhile, left observers bemused by a long-standing injury that he denied existed only two days earlier.

Westwood tried to put on a brave face after a 74 that, given the breakdown of the greatest strengths in his game, might have been an awful lot worse but for some brave and inspired putting that kept him in the tournament until the 17th hole.

The Englishman's game is based around power and accuracy from the tee, but on a final day when the TPC course and breezy conditions were at their most challenging he managed to hit only six fairways.

Westwood claimed that he hadn't played particularly well all week despite holding the lead after the second and third rounds and in these circumstances it was no surprise or great disappointment that he could ultimately only finish in fourth place.

The fact is the 37-year-old had given himself a fine chance of winning the next biggest tournament outside the majors, on a leaderboard that shouldn't have presented too many fears for a player ranked fourth in the world.

It may have been that Tim Clark's brilliant 67 would have been too good anyway. It was a freakishly inspired round in which every putt the South African looked at fell into the cup. Sometimes it happens that way.

But Westwood didn't finish runner-up to outlandish brilliance; he finished in a share of fourth place and the fact that he went backwards was down to his own poor play.

Some will inevitably now question his temperament on the big occasion. That remains a little harsh because the way that he powered to victory at the season-ending Dubai World Championship last November should not be forgotten.

That was a performance put together under the pressure of trying to claim the year-long money-list title, and he succeeded in doing so in real style.

At the Masters he was beaten by Phil Mickelson more than by himself, although there was a worrying deterioration in the reliability of his long game in the final round at Augusta.

The baked final round conditions at Sawgrass were such that any mistakes made were magnified. There was no hiding place and, under intense pressure, Westwood's putting stroke held up. It was still a hugely disappointing defeat, though.

He regularly reminds us that it is his short game that needs to improve and perhaps the breakdown of his driving was the result of the cumulative pressure he feels from his relative shortcomings around the green.

Either way it would be wrong to write off Westwood just yet. He should still be regarded as one of the favourites from next month's US Open. If he puts himself in contention at Pebble Beach it would be no great surprise.

But whether he can convert such a position into a major title is a question that will remain until he does it. That task would have seemed an awful lot easier if he had been able to do so at the Players. It would have been a wonderful title to have in the locker.

With Woods, there has to be a questionover whether we will see him at Pebble Beach. Who knows? Sunday's withdrawal, after he had completed six holes of his final round, took everyone by surprise, including his playing partner Jason Bohn.

It appeared this was going to be a week of quiet rehabilitation for the world number one. Without doing anything special it would have been four valuable completed rounds under his belt; another important step completed in his return.

Woods had told us on the Friday that he was 100% fit. On Sunday he revealed this neck problem, which he claims dates from before his comeback at the Masters.

Naturally some players like to keep fitness problems to themselves, but Woods cannot afford such luxuries. The nature of his downfall means that he can't be found to be straying from the truth on any subject.

This is the man who told us that; "hopefully one day you will be able to believe in me again." Those were the words with which he ended his address in February, as he made his comeback to public life and by his own admission set the template for the rest of his life.

He's due to have MRI scans this week and we have no idea when we will see him on the golf course again. Could be in a couple of weeks at Memorial? Could he be out for the rest of the year?

Ordinarily there would be plenty of sympathy for a player in such a position but there was little around as he was sped away from Sawgrass on Sunday lunchtime. Somehow the whole situation had turned into another unwanted controversy.

With Woods it is the inconsistency of his words, with Westwood it was inconsistency on the course that left so many unanswered questions.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Westwood will come good and is as good as certainty to win the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach just you watch.

    Have no time for a man who thinks he is bigger than the game so the less said about Woods the better.

  • Comment number 2.

    I think Westwood got in his own way on the final round. Instead of doing what comes natural to him, and by that I mean crash out long tee shots that find the middle of the fairway, he was cautiously avoiding the worst places to miss and missing on the other side and didn't get any momentum going as a result. It speaks volumes about his form that he was up there at the business end again, even if by his own admission he wasn't playing as well as he would like. He showed in Dubai how to front run, but he hasn't repeated the feat this year and has possibly been putting too much thought into it. I hope next time he is up there, he sticks to attacking fairways and greens. If he loses that way, nobody can knock him for it!

  • Comment number 3.

    Iain,
    Clearly a great opportunity for Lee Westwood, but I'm sure he'd consider the week a glass half-full, damned by the press for being in contention only to lose in appallingly unforgiving conditions to the second-best weekend score ever by a Players winner.
    Third pro mid-tournament withdrawal for Woods as it happens, the past two in California, though neither mid-round.
    If I was Finchem (which thank God I'm not), I'd be more concerned with a neck/back injury for Woods than with the Escalade escapade. No Canadian doctor to help this time. Presumably.

  • Comment number 4.

    Westwood looked like he suffered from playing with an extremely confident and laid back Robert Allenby, who generally hits his woods and irons with an easy swing and an immaculate contact. His style was an interesting contrast to Westwood, who takes more time, looks a bit stiff and gives the ball an almighty belt. You're right Iain, his long game was nowhere his usual imperious self, but his short game was much better. He hit some good chips and some good putts on very difficult greens, so maybe if he gets it all together he will win a major. As for Woods, his withdrawal was very uninteresting. The only really interesting thing about him is his ability to hit incredible shots with and without tremendous pressure. Like all human beings sometimes he doesn't tell the truth and sometimes he couldn't care less about the effect he has on other people. Why should anyone care if he behaves in an inconsistent way with what he has said? There are plenty of other good/great/interesting golfers and stories out there. Let's hear more about them.

  • Comment number 5.

    Whilst it is difficult to criticise a man who has won as many tournaments as Westwood there are real question marks over his ability under pressure in final rounds.
    Yes he won in Dubai but he started the final round well and no-one put him under any pressure throughout the whole round. It was a victory procession from very early on.
    He had a great chance in the US Open at Torrey Pines and his putting let him down, he three putted the last green at Turnberry to get into a play off. It speaks volumes for his tee to gree game that gets him into contention so often.
    But his chipping at Sawgrass was woeful for a top ranked player. And I think it is this issue coupled with his suspect putting that puts mental pressure on him in final rounds when the going gets tough because, unlike Woods, he doesnt believe he is going to get up and down every time he misses a green.
    I hope he does win a major, he is a great talent and a seemingly very nice bloke, but he still has got work to do.
    Woods needs to take a long break and come back in a good place with himself. When he does, then normal service will be resumed

  • Comment number 6.

    Westwood's problems have to be with his temperament. He has the game, undoubtedly, but just can't produce his best when it matters. Is this insurmountable? I don't know, but winning in the best company doesn't just happen by practice, it is in your blood. He looks frail to me.
    Woods is just getting worse and worse. Security men with tazers should not be allowed. He has to accept he's no better a person than anyone else, and once he does maybe, just maybe, he'll be forgiven. If he doesn't make it back I honestly believe it will be his lack of humility and lack of respect for the people who pay his wages - ultimately the public, that will cost him.

  • Comment number 7.

    I dispute lee had a commanding position at any stage, one shot up with a chasing pack of ten at 54 holes is always gonna see someone else play outstandingly well, as clark did. Well done to him. Whoever leads the first three rounds doesnt really matter apart from sponsors exposure, no matter how much you journos like to rev it up! =:O) 4th still blimming good!

  • Comment number 8.

    Westwood is a golfing personality struggling to just find that clinical edge.

    Whereas Woods was a golfing machine that has now been found to be human after all.

    While Westwood should be able to find that missing piece on the golf course, Woods should have left the course a long way behind. I guess he thought he could go back to the day job and forget his troubles instead he's dragging them around with him.


    Lot's of people have backed the idea that Woods the golfer should not be confused with his private life but trust and integrity on & off the course is inexorably linked...

  • Comment number 9.

    Westwood is a choking dog. End of. Hope Tiger is at the Open.

  • Comment number 10.

    I would have really liked to see Westwood win the thing. I would like him to win a Westwood slam, then top it off with a Grand Slam. If not him, somebone else who is deserving. There is nothing like placing a bet on a major tourment, your pick against the field. Golf needs a new hero, superman has the blues.

  • Comment number 11.

    Clark is so small he can use a normal putter like a belly putter.

    I was following on the PGA tour website last night as I don't have Sky. My internet is not quick enough to load the radio for live coverage so I was forced to follow the shot tracker which by the way is an excellent facility that I hope the European Tour can start to use. Iain Carter's twitter is marginally ahead of the shot tracker though so I did get the outcome of Westwood's demise from Carter's twitter before the PGA website.

    If woods does have a "bulging disc" then that could well be the end of him at the very top.

  • Comment number 12.

    Westwood = bottler. Monty Mk II.

    Woods = the "invincible" bubble has burst.

  • Comment number 13.

    Lets not forget that the same was being said about Phil M and look where he is today.
    Lee will get there, he has the game, temperament and the steely determination that others lack because if he didn't have it, he would never have come back from the doldrums he was in a couple of years back.

    Don't write him off!!!

    d;-Þ

  • Comment number 14.

    With Westwood it is sadly all to easy to see, yet again. I received huge criticism after the Masters for saying then that his failure to convert into a victory there was due to his own inability to close out a Major tournament. However important the Players is, it is NOT a Major but again under pressure (mostly from himself) he failed. Also, like others who have failed to win Majors before him, he seems destined to always run into another golfer better than him in terms of scoring in the final round. It is getiing more difficult for him every time and I remain convinced, with great sympathy for him and his huge number of supporters, that he will not win a Major - indeed he is now more lkely to lose a Major than to win one. It must be a personal hell for him but it is not helped by the constant hype heaped upon him by media and supporters. He only has a chance (very remote) in my view of winning a Major by coming a fair way off the pace in the final round, without huge expectation and limelight, with a blistering final round where his momentum carries him through to a win and perhaps at the same time causes others to falter as he has when in the lead or in contention from the start of the final round.
    As for Woods, he will soon be back winning and I am confident he wll win at St Andrews if fully fit. I am utterly fed up and disgusted at the constant criticism he is receiving. Adulation for the years of success; fawning attitudes toward him; eologies and platitudes for him both the golfer and the person, etc. Now, mostly hypocritical and derisory comment from literally all sides. This is the man who is in his own playing lifetime generally considered the finest golfer of all time yet after some unrelated human failings it is all in the past or rather as if it never happened or wasn't as good as it seemed. Woods has given golf enthusiasts more thrills and pleasure than any other golfer in my lifetime yet when he is personally down, golf consequently suffering and beset by emotional problems and some injuries, he is kicked like a dog. Let him be for goodness sake - surely we should rejoice in having the best golfer playing before us in our time rather than allowing his personal life to turn us away, especially the media. We don't approve but how many of us are truly without sin? Not many I suspect and of all despicable bases for comment, hypocrisy is the lowest and coupled with a perverse inclination to find fault with everything related to Woods now, the very worst form of "judgement".

  • Comment number 15.

    Westwood lost when, several strokes ahead of Clark, he decided to focus on match play with Robert Allenby. Instead of looking to birdie holes 9-13, the easiest on the course, he parred the lot ... while Clark went through them in four under, swept by the pair and wasn't seen again. Westwood left himself far too much to do in the notoriously tricky final holes, and paid the price trying too hard to make up the lost ground.

  • Comment number 16.

    Westwood will win a major, there's no doubt about that. If he keeps putting himself in strong positions after 54 holes then sooner or later he will convert it into a win. People said that Mickelson would never win a major, but once he won one, he won more. I believe Westwood will do the same and could easily end up with 3 or 4 majors.

    As for Woods, I think that the criticism of him is entirely justified...he clearly is not in the right physical and mental state to compete, so instead of taking the spotlight of every tournament he enters, he should take time off to recover and should only return when he is 100% fit and mentally stable.

  • Comment number 17.

    So Chris_Wheatley,Westwood in attempting to win the Players, indulged in "matchplay" with Allenby and as a result allowed Tim Clark to slip through - oh, and win! And you think Westwood will win a Major when at the business end of an important tournament (very important for him) he took his eye off the hapenings around him and changed his golfing mindset - no wonder he has not yet won a Major and even more so why he will not do so. Talk about perishing by his own sword. Further, if that is th sort of "justifying" remark that one of his supporters can come up with regarding his most recent failure then more grist to my mill.
    Hobbsey, there is no comparison between Westwood and Mickleson - they simply have shared an unfortunate history of failing to win a Major but there is nothing more in common. Mickleson has won Majors and is always a winning threat. Not Westwood. The fact it took Mickleson time to win one hs NO bearing at all on Westwood's continuing failures. I have no doubt he will continue to put himself in contentionm, and then fail, and each time he makes it much harder for the next time, and soon the "next times" will become rarer and then not happen.
    Also, Woods has the spotlight every time he plays hyped up by the media and fans alike. He only has to come within the camera's view. As the greatest golfer certainly of our time, what do you expect? No one criticised him when he competed, and won, the US Open when very badly injured and in great pain. No one called for him not to have played then. But now, any limp old excuse to heap detritus on him is greedilly grabbed and posted. Talk about killing the goose that layed the golden egg - and are we debating Golf or the private lives (however public they may become), morals, values and standards of those who play the game for big money and our pleasure? Well may I, and many others, truly wonder and worry.

  • Comment number 18.

    It is strange that Westwood gets all this criticism when, time after time, he is consistently up there challenging at the big tournaments. That is a credit to him and the more he is in contention, the more chances he has, it will happen for him. If it were, say, Steve Stricker who had put in the performances of Westwood over the past year most people would be congratulating him on how consistent he is and how he's going to win a big one sooner or later. Should we not be questioning and criticising the poor performances of Harrington, Poulter, Casey etc? I think they would like to have had Westwood's result, don't you?

    As for Woods, well he is on a downward spiral, the bubble looks to have burst. Even Haney has given up on him now!

  • Comment number 19.

    No. 14 Closertofine wrote: " yet when he is personally down, golf consequently suffering and beset by emotional problems and some injuries, he is kicked like a dog."

    Diddums.

    No.16 hobbsey wrote : "Westwood will win a major, there's no doubt about that."

    (a) I Happen to think there's quite considerable doubt
    (b) The same thing was said ad infinitum about Monty
    (c) Westwood is not far short of 40. How many have won majors at his age and beyond ?
    (d) Westwood is a very good golfer and good enough to be in the world's top 5 - but having been close and not been able to seal the deal on several occasions now, will be remembered, especially in the States, as a "choker". He's Monty Mk II and golf's very own Tim Henman.

  • Comment number 20.

    Naturally some players like to keep fitness problems to themselves, but Woods cannot afford such luxuries. The nature of his downfall means that he can't be found to be straying from the truth on any subject.
    ---------

    Utter tripe.

    All sportsmen will hide a weakness that might give their opponents an advantage, he was perfectly right to do so.

  • Comment number 21.

    For all you loyal Westwood supporters, what you espouse is what is termed "Blind Faith" - a belief, erroneously held, that the fact you so desperately want him to win a Major plus the fact he has so often been in contention will mean that he will in fact win. Not true, and in fact more of a burden for him than a benefit. Far more golfers have won Majors without having constantly challenged. It is unquestionably more difficult now for Westwood every time he plays in a Major and he has demonstrated that the pressure gets to him, and getting more so. There are many other European golfers who could reasonably have been expected to challenge hard for a Major win but recently, Harrington aside, the cupboard is sadly bare. Westwoods excellent record in strong competing is terrific, but is no more a pointer to him one day winning than to any other who has previously languished. It is becoming a millstone for him.

  • Comment number 22.

    Westwood has the game to win a major, but so have so many other players so it is not going to be easy to be in contention every time. He is not getting any younger either. So many great players have never one a major, maybe he will be one of them.

    As for Woods, he was again playing badly and he didn't want to have to face the interviews after the game so a very convenient neck injury appeared. Like most child prodigies, he spat the dummy out of the pram. He literally picked up his ball and took it home. You see this with other sporting prodigies. John McEnroe, Ronnie O' Sullivan, Lewis Hamilton and others come to mind. They have known nothing else and can become juvenile.

  • Comment number 23.

    It's very sad but how much further proof does anyone need that when the pressure is really on,Westwood s a bottler. It was embarrassing to watch him implode yet again on Sunday. It's Monty all over again.

    As for Woods I'm sure he will come back and win more Tournaments but the hoodoo he had over other players has gone and gone for good. Many players who used to crumble to the Woods challenge have got over it and are not scared of him like they used to be. This isn't something that has just happened, it's been happening for years. I am absolutely convinced Jack's major record is safe, probably for ever.

  • Comment number 24.

    goldwolf @ 18

    "As for Woods, well he is on a downward spiral, the bubble looks to have burst."

    14 majors in 11 years ... that was some bubble.

  • Comment number 25.

    sagamix @ 24

    "14 majors in 11 years ... that was some bubble."

    Really? I didn't know that. Thanks for your valued contribution there.

  • Comment number 26.

    Lee Westwood has the game to win a Major but like Colin Montgomery he does not have the mental ability to win the game. Bottom line he has had plenty of opportunity and each time he gives up the chance the less likely to win the big one. The obvious exception to this statement is Phil Mickleson who eventually won his majors. However 4 major victories after 20 years of competition is scant compared to the guys talent.

    Ian Carter does have, like so many correspondents, commentators and summarisers a real hatred/dislike of Woods. Endlessly finding fault with him whether it is on the course or off it. There is now doubt in my mind as to whether Woods will be the force he once. I hope for the sake of the game he does find his way because if not the current crop of players, minus one of two, are a dull bunch and will not attract the money and sponsorship that the game needs to survive.

    Tiger has brought so many of the problems on himself and his performances have been poor/strange of late. It is obvious he walked out on the tournament last weekend. I do not believe he was injured. However he is without doubt the best golfer of his generation and those people on this site who show him disrespect are just stupid.

  • Comment number 27.

    Its about time Woods put all this behind him, redefines his golfing goals, starts playing lots of competitive golf and dumps all his non-golf focused hangers-on. All he needs is one win, no matter where and he is back in business. He doesn't need therapists, counselling or any other of the New Age crap that is visited on us. He needs to play golf and win.
    Go for it Tiger! 'We'll all be dead in a hundred years!'

  • Comment number 28.

    hackerjack How do you take advantage when playing against a golfer with fitness problems? What benefit do you get if you know he's hurt? Why do you have to avoid the truth on such matters? Why would you want to avoid the truth when so many are questioning your integrity? Golf is not like other sports where you can tactically take advantage of an opponent's physical difficulties. Ever heard the phrase "beware the injured golfer".

    Interesting that Haney has walked away. He gave Woods a swing that attracted plenty of criticism, but you could not argue against the results they achieved together. But as the likeable Haney admits Tiger will have great success whoever he works with. He's that good.

  • Comment number 29.

    I don't think Westwood bottled it at all. Indeed, his putting held up well which is a very good sign. By his own admission, he didn't play that well all week and especially in the last round. However, parring all of the par 5s in the final round killed him and the double on the 17th was simply a case of him going for an all or nothing shot given he was 2 shots back.

    I personally just think he needs to review the way he approaches these final rounds when he's on or near the lead. He appears to me to play a bit too tentatively and would be better playing his normal game. Sure, play conservatively with a 6 shot lead but not with a 1 or a 2 shot lead.

    Also, he should also ditch the final round white trousers he always seems to wear...

  • Comment number 30.

    For what it's worth here's my opinion on Westwood and major tournaments.
    I order to win a major (or The Players) he'll need a large lead going into the final round. That will enable his naturally cautious approach to final rounds to pay dividends. In the last three majors, and in the Players Lee did not appear to try and WIN the tournament. He tried to hit fairways and greens and wait for others to LOSE.
    In every case someone has had a hot round and gone past him. By the time he's realised he has to change his game it's too late.
    Arguably the same could be said of Luke Donald - which is why I believe he won't win one either.
    Of course the gung-ho, full steam ahead approach of the likes of Mickelson does not always pay off, but 4 Majors is a very decent return by anyones standards.

  • Comment number 31.

    I don't think we need to question Lee's temperment too much - you have to remember that despite winning the order of merit in 2000 and then the r2d last year, he hasn't put himself in a good position in majors or tournaments like the Players until recently.
    He is playing very well and is still learning how to play his best golf when it matters most as is evidenced by his good play in earlier rounds of big tournaments before average final rounds. He will learn because he believes deep down he is good enough to win but needs to put himself in these positions a couple of times before he crosses the line. It's quite a common learning curve for golfers - look at Harrington before he broke through, Mickleson too. You have to feel comfortable out there when all the pressure is on.

    These near misses are very valuable and are just stepping stones to bigger victories further down the line.

  • Comment number 32.

    Why is Tiger constantly acting like creep, being all coy and dishonest with the media? He really hasn't learned anything. I couldn't care less about his "trangressions" or his wobbly game, just try acting like a decent person on the golf course and in the media scrum and people will like you a whole lot more.
    As for Haney, not sure why Woods ever left Butch in the first place. In the early 2000s he had one of the best moves ever seen in golf, then along comes Haney and he's hitting it all over the place. Tiger's still the best around, but his best golf has been behind him so some years.

  • Comment number 33.

    I find it staggering that Lee westwood has been branded as a 'bottler' just follow this link and look at scroll to the bottom

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Westwood

    its not a case of if but when westwood converts. Remember he was in golfs wilderness for 7 years after completly losing his game. Last 2 years have included top 4 finishes in the masters, open and US Open. not bad, not bad at all!!

  • Comment number 34.

    RE Post 32:
    I agree about Butch. Tiger swung the club much better under Butch Harmon than he has done under Haney, but Woods has said that he modified his swing to help him as he has got older.
    Tiger needs to go back to Butch, but he doesn't do humble pie which is a shame because theres no doubt in my mind that Tiger would be even better, although with Butch coaching Philly Mick can you really see both of them being coached by the same person..... I don't think so

  • Comment number 35.


    Fred I agree, if Westwood wants to win a major he will need to attack on the final day. There will always be at least one golfer who has a great round in the big tournaments, and if its not him he's unlikely to win. He has looked a bit tentative in the Players and the Masters, but he's won a lot of tournaments so knows how to do it. A bit more confidence could make the difference. To say he is a bottler ignores all his wins on tour, and is a bit harsh.

    As for Woods, I disagree that the game needs him. He has amazing talent, and incredible ability to perform under pressure, and can be great to watch but he also behaves really badly on the course. I was interested to hear an American commentator say that if he took his kid to see him play, he would be constantly telling him not to copy the things that Woods does, i.e. swearing, spitting, throwing his clubs, smashing his clubs into the ground, screaming ans shouting when he wins.

    The game existed before Woods, and will afterwards. If people only watch the game because of him, they are not really golf fans, they are just Woods fans. So what if they stop watching and buying Nike golf gear? So what if the sponsors pay less in winnings and advertising? The players will earn less, but that did not stop players playing professionally before Woods came along.

    He has played incredible golf for a long time, but let's not get too carried away - he's not that important and he's certainly not golf's saviour. Rather than criticise him for his off course behaviour, why not simply pay him less attention, and pay more attention to others?

  • Comment number 36.

    I do not understand the criticism Westwood is getting. He has been by far the most consistently excellent player in majors in the last few years, not to mention his four wins on the European Tour in the last three years, as well as his Race to Dubai victory last season when he blew the field away at the climax event. Comparisons can be made between him and Mickelson...they both undoubtedly possess the skill to win multiple majors, and it's just a matter of capitalising one time and that will open the door to more victories.

    I don't think it is justifiable to compare Westwood to Monty. Monty never had a good record in the States, and when the pressure really mounted, his temperament faultered (take the 72nd hole at the US Open at Winged Foot in 2006 for example - double bogey when a par would have secured victory). Westwood always appears calm and in control of his game, even in the 4th round when in conention, despite many people saying he's a "bottler". He has shot under-par in the final round of each of the last three majors which he has contended. Quality like his will not go unrewarded and I have no doubt that he will win a major in the future.

  • Comment number 37.

    Love Golf
    Good point about Golf and Woods.
    The game is bigger than him.
    Perhaps, coming to terms with this and the fact he is merely mortal, are contributing to his failures in life and on the golf course.
    Interesting to note that those supporting Westwood, are cynical about Woods and vice versa.
    A bob or two on Westwood or Poulter for the US Open!

  • Comment number 38.

    Westwood is making outstanding progress. The only barrier to his Major is a bit of fine-tuning, including his mental approach. Golf psychology is not rocket science. What goes on in the head, especially if it comes out of the mouth, shows its results on the course. So less talk about being in contention, and more talk of winning could make all the difference. 'The enemy of the best is the good'.

    Lee and his team deserve enormous credit for how far he's come. His huge army of fans won't need to wait much longer.

    Similar comments apply to Woods, but at a much deeper level. His next Major will be a much tougher challenge than Westwood's. So much so that I stand by my July 2009 prediction that it won't come, unless he truly embraces fundamental change at all levels. I haven't seen it yet, but neither do I write him off - yet.

  • Comment number 39.

    "27. At 1:25pm on 11 May 2010, whackercarthy wrote:

    'We'll all be dead in a hundred years!'"

    A hundred! I'd be chuffed with another 40! :)

  • Comment number 40.

    I watched the PLayers until the bitter end. Delighted for Tim Clark, who seems to be a really good guy, and who played an absolute blinder.

    As far as Westwood is concerned, I don't think the problem was that he choked so much as that he didn't stick to his game plan. Under pressure, he was really trying to leather his driver rather than hitting it as he normally does, thus spraying it all over the place and making life difficult for himself with his second shot. Even though his putting held up, you can't continually put yourself in trouble like that and hope to shoot a great score. To conclude, I think he certainly has the ability to win a major, and in the same style as he won in Dubai last year, but he needs to keep doing what he does best.

  • Comment number 41.

    tiger will be fine given some time. all of the records will be broken in time. remember jordan's gambling/women probs? guess who tiger spent time w/ and learned about being the big profi star from? this personal life stuff is a can of worms need not be open. you think this is the worst of it? about tiger? others? not even close it's the tip of the iceberg. don't even want to go there. you think you are getting the truth from profi players ever? nope. try well-crafted media control. want truth? ask them a technical question about a shot they hit. you think it's any different w/ the american football player from pittsburgh? the french prostitute scandal? everywhere you look it's the same overindulgence and pampered stars gone awry. but mr carter, i did warn you about the direction your tone was heading w/ tiger before this mess as you well know. it's no different now. theres no free pass b/c HUGE sponsors didn't do their homework or didn't care to. tiger may end up divorced. that is not so good and the prospect of a half billion going out the door might make all of our necks hurt! but BE CAREFUL w/ what you say! what do you think golf will look like in 20 years? who do you think will have the power? i'll give you a hint- look back at the names of top amatuers 10, 15, 20, 25 years ago (doesn't matter when) and look where they are now. golf is extremely predictable, things don't change so much. i wouldn't want to alienate myself from the best player ever...

  • Comment number 42.

    cant believe some of the negative comments on here about 'westwood'.
    jesus,the man is doing everything right.hes putting himself in contention for nearly every big tournament in america hes playing at the moment.hes knocking at the door and giving himself a chance on a scale 'monty' never could match for consistancy.
    hes not monty mark 2 at all.
    give the guy a break you lot.his golf even when hes not on his top game is getting him close to tournaments like 'the players' FFS!!
    nothing is certain in this life and i do agree that you cannot say 'his time in majors will definately come'.however i do believe if he keeps doing what hes doing and dosent get frustrated he WILL break through and become a major champion..hes the best player i have ever seen thats never won one.

  • Comment number 43.

    #42
    not sure, electric arguments, if westwood IS the best player not to win a major??? there sure are many other contenders you could make a case for (whether they are in form @ the moment or not) let's take adam scott for example- 7 years younger than westwood, but already half the worldwide wins of westwood. including some BIG ones. both have spent considerable amounts of time in the top 10 world rankings. certainly scott has been nowhere near as consistent as of late, but i just want to make the point there are many others in that group...now about that 'consistency' comment regarding monty- well, you just have to be joking, right? let's see westwood win a few more order of merits maybe getting to half of monty's total before getting ahead of ourselves. not to discount westwood's avhievements, but he isn't quite in monty's league yet...of course there are others, appelby comes to mind., but best to stop now i could go on all day...

  • Comment number 44.

    Ah, the best player who never won a major ... that old chestnut. I always wonder what people are getting at when they say that? Is it just a bit of innocent and idle speculation? Or an extremely back handed compliment/thinly veiled criticism of a talented and successful pro? Whichever way it is said, it is always a curse - and what a negative way to look at someone's career? Is it a typically British way of knocking sports stars? Has anyone ever heard a very talented or successful professional say it about someone else, or is it just those who haven't succeeded that go on about it?

    Montgomerie has had an outstanding career, no-one is ever likely to do what he did in singles events in Europe or in the Ryder Cup. People should talk about that and remember him for his incredible record and not for not wining a major. Whenever people go on about that, its probably a bit of a kick in the teeth for him, after all he has achieved.

    Let's root for our boys - wherever we come from - and will them to win the big ones. Let's forget about the best player never to win a major, that's a classic lose - lose situation.

  • Comment number 45.

    Lee is a very talented player and an exceptional driver of the ball, unfortunately his very average short game puts serious stress on his long game, when under pressure it is obvious that Lee himself does not trust his short game unfortunately displaying a very one dimensional wooden technique, it is a testiment to the rest of his game that he still competes at the highest level but being so reliant on fairways and greens will catch up under the highest scutiny. I played against Lee on numerous occasions many years ago at County level and he was very long and straight then but still showed a weakness around the greens, I really hope he breaks this `duck` but media pressure added to his own expectaions will be difficult to overcome.

  • Comment number 46.

    if Lee Westwood was maybe 25 years old i would class these near misses as ''stepping stones'', but the guys nearly 40. he has a comfortable retirement package a nice house and family, hes comfy and his sole focus should be winning majors and the players, and im afraid to say he hasnt got the bottle. at the open he hit a 170 yard 9 iron onto the final green from a bunker. what a shot, if he 2 putted he carried all the momentum into a potential play off, but he 3 putted. he should just retire so we can give up discussing the fact he isnt good enough to win a major

  • Comment number 47.

    Westwood is in fine form and looks capable of winning almost every time he tees it up. The only concern is that when he has challenged and fallen short in the past he has played well but someone else has played better. At the players he actually played poorly in the final round. Some good putting stopped a 74 becoming a 78!
    As long as he can put this behind him, and so far he has shown good mental strength, I'm sure a major will be his. In fact you could argue that a US Open suits his game best.

  • Comment number 48.

    Tiger is difficult to warm to. Personally I'm always happier when he's being beaten. To us Brits just being successful is enough to put us off. Then spitting on the course! Unfaithful!
    He could almost be French!
    However...
    Most people who actually come in contact with the man seem to like him. He has done a great deal for the game of golf both deliberately and just by being so a great golfer.
    His game is unfairly criticised. His so called "long game woes" meant he only managed 6th best in driving last year (combined distance and accuracy).
    In short he deserves a break.
    Unfortunately I just can't find it in my heart to give him one. I want him to play in the Open so he can miss the cut at St Andrews. I want him to play in the Ryder Cup so Lee can stuff him 7 and 6. Mean I know but I can't help myself.

  • Comment number 49.

    Westwood needs that Major. We can all see the consistency in some excellent finishes and he himself says he has a greater confidence at the top of the Leaderboard. However, until he lands one only Westwood Ultra's will not place him alongside Monty rather than Faldo.



  • Comment number 50.

    Iain,

    What's next for your BBC Blog?

    In a few days there is a competition coming up, one of only three I think, correct me if I'm wrong, mens tournaments covered on the BBC this summer. Since we lost the World Matchplay, and I seem to recall watching the British Masters (Dunlop sponsor I think pulled out) on BBC there isn't really much to shout about.

    Why don't you open up the debate about the BMW championship at Wentworth?

  • Comment number 51.

    Ian, you are being harsh on Lee!! Back in 2001 before slipping down the rankings he was a great front runner. When up there on Sunday he got the job done and world class golfers dont lose that ability.

    How many attempts did it take Phil? The comments he made post Masters Sunday were not only spot on but spoken by someone who should know better than most.

    Its only a matter of time before Lee gets what he deserves

  • Comment number 52.

    Of course it looks like Westwood is struggling to close out a major. But what a compliment that so many think he should have won 2 or maybe 3 already. There are truly very few in the modern era, where the standard of those from around 20 - 100 in the world is much higher than it ever has been, who manage to win multiple majors. Woods, Harrington, Els, Goosen, Mickleson (have I forgeotten anyone?).
    I do not know if he will win one or not, he has the talent and he has won enough around the world to suggest the mental side is not holding him back. I really hope he does, but as other posts suggest he still probably needs to up his short game standards.

  • Comment number 53.

    I admire Lee and his support for the European Tour, but I believe he needs to play regularly on the BIG TOUR with their depth of field to be able to be the "closer" in the majors. The Paul Lawrie's, Thomas Bjourn's, Paul McGinley's etal is not like playing against the Anthony Kim's, Stewart Cink's, Sean O'Hair's...I do not wish to denegrate the Euro Tour because I love watching it BUT it is not the PGA Tour. Lee is a great player who plays against the strongest fields only 10 times a year...he needs the pressure that the best can place on him to close the deal in the majors.

 

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