Was this the call to swap his son Sam for his fiancee Helen Storey on the bag? Did playing with defending champion Dustin Johnson upset him in any way? Maybe the decision to rest last week robbed him of momentum?
Anyway, after all the hype, the hope, the incredible form in the build, there was something particularly cruel about watching Lee Westwood weave his way around Augusta Two consecutive finalists at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Players last month, which propelled him to the top 20 in the world, had raised hopes that Westwood could actually break his main duck this week.
The Masters have always adapted their game and their placid temperament Instead, a disastrous 78 in the first round threatens Westwood’s presence in any capacity this weekend, not to mention any chance of a fight on Sunday.
It was cruel because it was so unexpected It really felt like it could have been Westwood’s time Should have been his time
Of course, the odds were stacked against him Jack Nicklaus, at 46, remains the oldest recipient of the Westwood Green Jacket will turn 48 later this month And while Augusta is known to produce his fair share of good humor stories over the years, this is not a country for old people Particularly in its current and ruthless state
But that has been Westwood’s form, and he has done well in the Masters so often (the 47-year-old was second to Phil Mickelson in 2010, third in 2012 – two shoot-offs won by Bubba Watson – and finalist again behind Danny Willett in 2016), it was a safe bet that he would put a lap or two rows together
It only took three holes for the bubble to burst After missing out on one and two birdie opportunities – how different would it have been if one of those really easy putts had dropped – a double bogey six in which Westwood chose to play iron off the tee, for extra control, to find the trees on the right, this was the first sign it was going to be a Westwood grind would hit a branch trying to s’ escape, before putting three shots when he finally reached the green
From there, things quickly went downhill The bogeys at five, seven and nine saw Westwood reach the turn in 40, with a lone birdie in the eighth par-five, the only crumb of solace as his son Sam looked in dismay
Westwood had spoken about his fiancee Helen Storey’s ability to keep him relaxed on track
In an insightful joint interview with this newspaper earlier this week, the couple revealed their modus operandi
“We’re talking about any old nonsense out there,” Storey said “Everything but golf For me it’s just a nice walk with Lee around a big field Like I tell him if it looks dark, “Hey nobody is dead there is no dramatic music in the background” “
Westwood, who keeps a long-standing promise to his 19-year-old son Sam, admitted it was a ‘different’ vibe when he had him on the bag. “Sam is a decent player, down to zero , so it’s different, “he said “Because if Helen and I avoid the ‘golf stuff’, when I’m with Sam I’m actually trying to teach him a lesson without him realizing it”
Thursday’s lesson was brutal but perhaps as valuable as any other as Westwood, generally so reliable from the tee to the green, struggled to find a hole-after-hole position Other 10-man bogeys and 12 saw him drop to six out of And while he recovered a 15th by five shot – a brilliant second from 211 yards above the water giving him an eagle putt – he returned it to again on the 17th, immediately leaving the tee and finding the pine needles It could have been even uglier
Westwood actually dropped his pilot after hitting his tee shot on the 18th He turned out to be one of his best readers Naturally, he didn’t stop for interviews afterward. Former world No.1 has a proud record here, having been cut 16 times in 19 appearances He’s got his work cut out for extending this week Even Ian Woosnam is two shots better than him, and the Welshman he turned out , had pulled the groin and back muscles before the game even started Augusta customers will be ready to do it
The fairytale’s first major may be beyond him, but all of golf is hoping Westwood can rediscover the touch, and more so the carefree demeanor he showed last month when he tested it. today
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World News – UK – Lee Westwood faces battle to keep Masters dream alive after temperamental first round 78