With the PGA TOUR set to resume its 2013-14 season the first week of January, PGATOUR.COM is previewing the top 30 players to watch heading into the new year. We'll count down one a day in December until we unveil our No. 1 player to watch on Dec. 30, the Monday of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
Check out this preview of No. 24 Lee Westwood and join the discussion below on how you think he'll perform in 2014. Click here for more on the top 30 to watch in 2014.
NO. 24 PLAYER TO WATCH: LEE WESTWOOD
2014 OUTLOOK: There's not much Lee Westwood hasn't done in his career. The 40-year-old has 38 worldwide wins, been an integral part of victorious European Ryder Cup teams and even reached No. 1 in the world. The only thing he hasn't done, of course, is win a major championship, which is where much of his focus is (and should) be. Westwood's first year living in the U.S. full-time went fairly well with a half-dozen top 10s in 19 starts. He also played well in three of the year's four majors with a tie for third at The Open Championship his best result. Expect that trend to continue. -- Brian Wacker
THUS FAR THIS SEASON: Westwood broke 70 just once in four rounds in his only start of the new year, at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions.
The affable Brit is the ubiquitous groomsman in the majors with eight top-three finishes since the 2008 U.S. Open. That'll work just fine for our purposes. Also have to love a career-high 19 starts in 2013 despite not advancing to the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. -- Rob Bolton
|ON THE MARK
Westwood’s golf swing lends itself to consistent and flush ball-striking as he hits as “heavy” a ball as anyone I’ve watched. It’s a stable, repeating action that does not employ too many unnecessary levers. Once Lee tightens up and improves his scrambling, i.e., pitching and putting, I feel like he will be even more of a force. -- Mark Immelman
The Englishman who was so dedicated to his game that he moved his family to the United States so that he could practice in better conditions year round. He is also a great driver of the golf ball who plays well on hard courses. He lives close to PGA National and could be a winner at The Honda Classic. -- Fred Albers
|INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Westwood moved to South Florida with the goal of improving his short game. One half of that equation was accomplished in 2013 as Westwood leaped from 191st (48.30 percent) to 21st (61.57) in scrambling. He’s still struggling on the greens, however, ranking 168th in strokes gained-putting, losing .484 shots to the field average. -- Bill Cooney
By PGATOUR.COM Staff
Lee Westwood will reunite with longtime caddie Billy Foster at next week's Northwestern Mutual World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, Calif., according to a report in the Daily Telegraph. Westwood and Foster split up after Foster injured his right knee playing soccer at the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship.
“Everyone knows that Lee and Billy were a great partnership and it made sense that now Billy is fully fit again that the partnership reforms,” Westwood's manager, Chubby Chandler, told the Daily Telegraph. “… They’ve had their heart-to-heart, sorted out whatever needed sorting out, and Billy will be back on Lee’s bag permanently, starting at Tiger’s event next week.”
Westwood won eight times and reached No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with Foster on the bag during their three years together. Westwood also had six top-three finishes in majors during their time together. Foster has been working for Branden Grace, a member of this year's International Presidents Cup team.
Westwood is playing this week's Franklin Templeton Shootout with Ian Poulter and next week's Northwestern Mutual World Challenge. He'll return at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, where he finished third at the 2008 U.S. Open.
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Lee Westwood entered this week's BMW Championship directly on the bubble. Ranked 30th in FedExCup points, he would be the last man to qualify for next week's FedExCup Playoffs finale, the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, if he can maintain that position.
But the bubble boy wasn't feeling particularly bubbly on Thursday. Suffering from what he described as a "stiff back, bad neck and sore rib," Westwood shot a 9-over 80 in Thursday's first round and is next to last on the scoreboard.
Afterward, during a brief chat with reporters, he could barely turn his neck. He was on his way to see a doctor in hopes of finding a way that will allow him to continue playing this week.
"I hope to keep going," he said.
Westwood arrived at Conway Farms this week suffering from the injury problems. He spent part of his practice time working with his swing coach, Sean Foley.
"We were looking for ways to swing around the injuries," Westwood said. "Obviously I want to play in the TOUR Championship so thought I'd give it a go."
As he left the scoring area, Westwood -- now projected to fall to 41st in points, which would keep him out of East Lake -- didn't look so good.
"I'm in pain," he said. "I feel sick."
NORTON, Mass. -- Lee Westwood woke up with a stiff back Friday morning. Not that you would know it for the 5-under 66 he shot in the opening round of the Deutsche Bank Championship.
That ties for his lowest round on the PGA TOUR this season; he's shot 66 on three other occasions, including the first round of the PGA Championship earlier this month.
"I feel like my game is coming together," Westwood said. "I've got a bit of a bad back which is going to take a bit of work and try and loosen that up. But maybe for lack of practice -- because I haven't been hitting balls -- will do me good."
Westwood said he is getting treatments on his back and is hopeful it will loosen up.
He came into the week 31st in FedExCup points. A win or second-place finish could move him inside the top 5 going into the BMW Championship.
Westwood shot 68 Saturday and is 3 under with one round to go at Oak Hill. (Greenwood/Getty Images)
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- No active player has more starts in a major -- 61 -- without a victoy in one than Lee Westwood.
Not that he hasn't had his chances.
Sixteen times Westwood has finished in the top 10 in a major. Half of them have been finishes in the top 3, including just last month when he tied for third at The Open Championship.
Saturday at Oak Hill he put himself in position again, shooting a 2-under 68 on a windy, difficult day of scoring at Oak Hill. Westwood is 3 under and inside the top 10 on the leaderboard.
"I can't say I wasn't delighted to see a bit of a breeze blowing this morning," Westwood said. "I didn't want to go out throwing darts out there again. I wanted it to have some teeth to it really."
He got his wish.
With the breeze increasing throughout the day, players who went out early leapfrogged up the leaderboard with every birdie. Westwood made five of them -- and three bogeys -- to climb nearly 20 spots.
The Englishman, who recently began working with coach Sean Foley, had an impressive day of ball-striking, hitting 15 greens in regulation.
And though his score wasn't quite good enough to put him in the lead, the way he was at Muirfield three weeks ago, Westwood is in a good place.
"You saw what happened when I had the lead in the last major and Phil (Mickelson) was four, five behind," Westwood. "So anything is possible on the Sunday of a major."
Lee Westwood is looking for his first major championship title. (Greenwood/Getty Images)
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Lee Westwood didn't go so far as to say he didn't like the way Oak Hill was set up Friday.
But with the rain that fell overnight and continued throughout the morning, the course was playing every bit of the 7,132 yards -- and then some. Just over half an inch fell on Friday and another .37 of an inch on Thursday.
Westwood said the par-4 17th, which measures 510 yards and produced one of his three bogeys in a round of 73, was "really tough" and "unreachable." He also made a double bogey at the eighth hole but managed birdies at Nos. 12 and 14.
"The ball was flying nowhere and it's playing really long," Westwood said. "It's picking up mud, as well. There's a lot of other things to contend with out there today."
Westwood said Tim Clark, who was in his threesome, actually had to lay up on three par 4s -- the aforementioned 17th, No. 18 (which measured 493 yards) and No. 9 (443 yards.)
Despite his double-bogey, bogey finish, Westwood wasn't too disappointed in his performance. He'll start the third round at 1 under and six strokes behind the current leader at the midway point, Adam Scott.
"Yeah, obviously I'd like to finish par, par or better, but red figures going into the weekend, still have a chance," said Westwood, who has finished third or better eight times in majors but is still looking for his first win.
Lee Westwood has finished in the top 3 in seven of his past 16 majors. (Greenwood/Getty Images)
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Lee Westwood hasn't thought much about the recent trend toward first-time winners at the major championships. A total of 14 such breakthroughs in the last 20, to be exact.
The 40-year-old Englishman just knows he wants to add his name to the growing list. After all, he's keeps getting in the hunt -- and even took a two-stroke lead into the final round at Muirfield where the resulting tie for third made it seven top-3s in his last 16 marjos.
"I don't really analyze other people's games or results or things like that," Westwood said. "I just try to concentrate on my own and get my own house in order.
"So I don't know the reason for that, and to be honest, it's not really something I've thought too much about. I just think it shows, really, that thinking about it now, that off the cuff, I just think it shows the depth and strength of golf at the moment. There are a lot of good players playing golf at the moment and major championships are probably harder to win than they ever have been."
Westwood comes to Oak Hill, where he missed the cut in 2003, off a tie for 40th at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. He felt he actually played better tee to green last week than he did at The Open Championship but his putter held him back as he never got the pace of the Firestone greens.
Safe to say Sean Foley's newest client will be seeking out Ian Baker-Finch, his new short-game coach, this week.
"I haven't seen him on the putting green yet, but I saw him last night in the lift, and he gave me a couple of things that we might want to work on," Westwood said with a grin.
Westwood, who sought the counsel of of British sports psychologist Ross Mackenzie both before and after he didn't get the job done at Muirfield, didn't appear particularly concerned at the divergent results in his last two starts. He understands that when changes are made it might take time before consistency returns.
"I think the main reason for finishing third at The Open Championship was that I putted so well," Westwood said. "That's the first time I've putted well in I don't know how long. It seems to be what everybody else does every week, so that's a level of consistency that I've got to try to get to on the greens.
"Like you say, I've been making a lot of changes and working on a lot of different things, so there's no surprise really that there was a significant difference between the Open and last week; until changes take effect, then you're going to be a little bit inconsistent. I think it's probably a combination of all three."
Lee Westwood has eight top-three finishes in majors since 2008. (Carr/Getty Images)
Lee Westwood moved to Florida before this season to aid his quest for his first major championship. He gave himself a great chance to claim that first title at a Grand Slam event, but couldn’t convert a two-shot lead after 54 holes into a victory.
He shot 4-over 75 on Sunday instead, finishing in third place with Ian Poulter and Adam Scott at 1-over 285, four shots behind winner Phil Mickelson.
"I'm not too disappointed," Westwood said. "I don't really get disappointed with golf anymore."
Westwood, 40, now has eight top-three finishes in 62 majors, all since 2008, when he finished a shot outside the Tiger Woods-Rocco Mediate playoff at Torrey Pines. Westwood, a former world No. 1, recently enlisted former Open Championship winner Ian Baker-Finch as a putting adviser and Sean Foley as a swing instructor.
“I putted lovely this week. I made my fair share,” Westwood said. “So there was a lot of positives to take out. I didn't really feel like I had my "A" game. I didn't feel like I was striking the ball well. I was amazed to be in the lead going into the fourth round, because every time I turned into the wind I was really struggling.
Westwood made his only birdie of the final round at the par-5 fifth hole, which he played 5 under for the week. He followed with bogeys at Nos. 7, 8, 13 and 16, though. He had plugged lies in bunkers on Nos. 7-9, resulting in two bogeys and a par at the reachable par-5 ninth hole.
“I didn't really play well enough today,” Westwood said. “I didn't play badly, but I didn't play great. It's a tough golf course, and you've got to have your ‘A’ game. I missed a few shots out there.”
Westwood also held the 54-hole lead at the 2010 Masters, which Mickelson won. Westwood shot 71 to finish three shots back.
"I wouldn't have done anything different for breakfast, or carried three markers in the pocket instead of two," Westwood said. "I never second-guess myself. So there's no point in doing it, you just do what feels right at the time."