By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
MARANA, Ariz. -- Lee Westwood has played in the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship a dozen times.
Until last year, though, when Westwood reached Sunday's consolation finals, he had never made it past the second round. So was there anything the Englishman did differently?
"Other than not really putting too much pressure on myself to try and get going in the tournament, no," Westwood said. "Just try to play carefree golf sort of and see what happened."
His success at Dove Mountain a year ago -- where Westwood beat a formidable lineup in Nicolas Colsaerts, Robert Karlsson, Nick Watney and Martin Laird before falling to Rory McIlroy in the semifinals -- has the transplanted Brit eager to see what happens this week. He has additional motivation, too, after moving his family to South Florida over the Christmas holidays.
"This is my fourth week away, so the moving in process is happening as we speak, so my main incentive this week is to get as far as possible to stay away from box-unpacking duty," Westwood said with a smile.
"Other than the fact that we're playing for a World Golf Championship and fortunes, I'm trying to stay away from the task of unwrapping things, as well. So that's a lot of pressure."
Westwood's first-round opponent is Rafael Cabrera-Bello, who is playing in the Accenture Match Play Championship for the second time. Westwood is pleased with the way he's playing, particularly his short game, but he's looking to get on a roll after ties for 46th and 21st in his first two PGA TOUR starts.
"The first three weeks of the year, I really haven't been able to sort of get any momentum going," Westwood explained. "If I have, then I've followed it up at that double bogey or something like that. I haven't had the breaks when I've needed them. It's just golf, and you just keep playing and try and do the right things well and more often, and just wait for things to happen.
"This could be the week that it happens."
Lee Westwood answered fan questions Tuesday in a live video chat from the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. The former world No. 1 finished fourth at last year's Match Play.
The replay is available above or on-demand at www.youtube.com/pgatour.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Turns out, John Westwood has the same droll sense of humor as his son does.
"He played pretty well today," the patriach of the clan was saying Thursday after Lee finished off a round of 68 at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. "You can see where he got his swing from, though, when you look at me. Copies everything that I do."
Lee, who has won nearly 40 events worldwide, was quick to jump into the conversation. "Only a little bit longer," the Englishman said with a grin.
The two are playing together in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am for the first time. And Thursday's first round marked John's introduction to the fabled links since the two didn't play a practice round there given his son's familiarity with the course.
"You sort of tick off bucket list courses and Pebble Beach would definitely be one of them," Lee said. "To actually play in a competition in the AT&T with your dad and tick that one off is something really special."
The team is 4 under, which corresponds to Westwood's score. He hit 10 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens in regulation. He nearly holed a sand wedge from 106 yards out in the fairway at the 11th hole -- but the ball stopped an inch above the hole for one of five birdies on the day.
"You can't normally stop a putt coming down that hill," Westwood said. "So to stop a sand iron when it's spinning back and running down towards the hole; but it's always nice to be able to walk up, take the flag out and tap in. Those are the kind of birdies you like."
Westwood, who is making his 2013 TOUR debut this week, has moved with his family to West Palm Beach, Fla., during the offseason. He says he feels more a part of the PGA TOUR this year because he expects to play 20 or more events rather than just the 15 needed to maintain membership.
"Before I always felt like a European Tour member," Westwood said. "Even though I was a member of the PGA TOUR, I felt like a European Tour member coming over here, not really getting involved in playing enough events. ...
"My game is in good shape and there's a lot of weeks that I have not been to in the last few years that I'm looking forward to going back to again, weeks like this, Arnold Palmer's tournament, Bay Hill, the Memorial are all on the schedule. So it's going to be an exciting year and hopefully a big year."
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM Equipment Insider
Here are some equipment news and notes from around the golf world this weekend:
Lee Westwood tests out new Ping G25 driver
Mickelson finished T-37 at 17-under.Jason Dufner switches to Scotty Cameron GoLo putter
To preview the 2013 PGA TOUR season, PGATOUR.COM is counting down the Top 100 Players to Watch in 2013. For an archive page with the top 100 players and for an explanation on how the list was compiled, click here.
2013 PREVIEW: Lee Westwood re-joined the TOUR in 2012 and had a very solid season, posting seven top-10s in 15 starts and finishing 10th in the FedExCup Playoffs. With his eye on the majors and the $10 million FedExCup prize, Westwood is actually moving his family to south Florida this winter to better prepare. After nine top-10s in his last 19 major starts, will this year be the Brit's breakthough?
2012 DEFINING MOMENT: Westwood tied for third at the Masters, missing the playoff between Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen by two strokes. It was his seventh finish of third or better in a major since 2008. He finished the season strong, too -- posting two top 10s in the FedExCup Playoffs, highlighted by a tie for second at the BMW Championship -- and had two wins overseas. –- Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ALBERS’ QUICK TAKE: Lee overheard me talking while hitting a shot and in the nicest way possible told me my voice was carrying. I sometimes wonder if the situation was reversed, if I would have handled it in the same manner. Lee is a great ball-striker who has improved his short-game. -- Fred Albers, SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio
BOLTON’S FANTASY OUTLOOK: While he didn't win in 2012, his renewal of PGA TOUR membership was a boon for salary gamers. Now priced at just over $3 million, he's not as obvious an investment, but gamers love that he still has a chip on his shoulder as best active golfer never to have won a major. Meanwhile, the series of changes in his stable later in the season reflected both necessity and urgency. The X-factor moving forward is how he fares with new caddie, Mike Kerr, who spells the dismissed Billy Foster. However, expect nothing but business as usual in Westwood's progress and results. If anything, putting closure to that situation will erase any residual doubt. It most certainly eliminated an unfortunate distraction. I am bullish on the Brit. -- Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy expert
SOCIAL MEDIA: Find him on Twitter
2012 QUICK REVIEW
Regular Season ranking 51st
Final Playoffs ranking
|Best finishes||T2||BMW Championship|
|By the Numbers
Cuts made: 14
Rounds played: 54
Top-10 finishes: 7
Money List rank: 24th
Driving distance: 29th
Driving accuracy: 76th
Greens in regulation: 3rd
Strokes gained-putting: 175th
Scoring average: 24th
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN What is your prediction for Lee Westwood in 2013? Fill out the form below and let us know.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Lee Westwood and his longtime caddie Billy Foster have decided to part ways.
Out the last six months with a knee injury, Foster only began walking again the last two weeks when he got the word Westwood was making a change.
“It's been very difficult these last six months; I've been in a dark tunnel,” Foster told U.K. newspaper The Daily Mail . “We had such a laugh together, have been great mates and were very successful, but it's a tough game for caddies and I've just to focus on getting myself right.
“I'm a strong character and I'll be fine -- I know I will be -- but all this because of a freak accident. I wasn't even playing in the game when it happened.”
Foster suffered the injury when his foot got caught in a hole during a friendly soccer match in April.
Mike Kerr, who was being courted by Sergio Garcia, according to the newspaper, will replace Foster on Westwood’s bag.
“It was a difficult decision because we all know how good Billy is as a caddie and they’re great mates as well,” Westwood’s agent, Chubby Chandler, told The Daily Mail. "Lee is at that stage of his career where he has to be a little bit selfish. He’s only got four or five prime years left and he simply can’t afford to mess about with this one coming up.”
Foster shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a bag one he’s healthy. He spent the last two decades caddying for Seve Ballesteros, Darren Clarke and Westwood. He even caddied for Tiger Woods on a few occasions when Steve Williams wasn’t available.
Added Chandler: “Billy hopes to be fit enough at the start of next year to caddie for one week and then have one week off. But Lee is playing six tournaments in a row, starting in Dubai next February, and you can’t have Billy one week and then another caddie the following week.”
Westwood will turn 40 in April and is still seeking what’s been an elusive first major championship.
U.S. (Jason Dufner & Zach Johnson) def.
Europe (Francesco Molinari & Lee
Westwood), 3 and 2
Click for more: Hole by hole
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
MEDINAH, Ill. – The U.S. team of Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner defeated Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari 3 and 2 Friday morning’s foursomes match in the Ryder Cup.
MATCH FLOW: This match was a tale of two nines. Europe held the edge on the front and the understated Americans seized control on the back. Europe won the first hole when Zach Johnson was unable to convert a 5-footer for save par. The front nine was a see-saw battle after that with Europe going 1 up two more times and the Americans squaring the match three times. Jason Dufner made back-to-back birdie putts at Nos. 9 and 10 and the Americans never trailed again. The Americans decided to lay up at the drivable 15th and Lee Westwood found the water for another U.S. win. The Americans closed out the match at the 16th hole as Dufner makes a 30-inch putt for par after Westwood misses from 7 feet.
BY THE NUMBERS: The U.S. team won six holes and shot a combined 3 under. The European team won three holes and shot a combined 1 over.
TIPPING POINT: Dufner's 15-footer for birdie at the ninth hole. It appears to stop to the left of the hole but drops in as Dufner walks to tap it in. The iceman cracks a slight smile and the U.S. never trails again.
NOTES & QUOTES: “I think today was a day that when it comes to foursomes, we did exactly what you should do, and that was never really take yourself out of the hole, put yourself in a position to make putts and stay and just keep fighting and staying in the moment.” Zach Johnson …
“Zach put me in a good spot on the ninth hole. The European Team had putted one maybe about 10 feet by. We had a good read on the putt. I felt like I hit a really nice putt and it just looked like it was going to hang on the edge. And to be honest with you, I almost felt like the roar of the crowd and the anticipation of the putt missing actually willed that ball into the hole because it felt like the crowd's cheer came from the right and the ball kind of fell into the hole. So that was a pretty good moment there.” Jason Dufner …
Zach Johnson is now 2-1-1 in Foursomes and 3-2-1 in team play. …
With his loss this morning, Westwood drops to 7-2-4 in Ryder Cup Foursomes play.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
MEDINAH, Ill. -- A course that was new to him with fast, undulating greens doomed Lee Westwood last week.
The accomplished Englishman shot 15 over at East Lake and finished dead last at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola -- which was not exactly the performance Westwood had hoped for on the eve of his eighth Ryder Cup.
The world No. 4, who was competing in the FedExCup Playoffs for the first time, said he got over par early in the finale and things just started to snowball. And with a $10 million prize at the end of the FedExCup rainbow on offer to the winner on Sunday, Westwood acknowledged he might have gotten too aggressive at times.
That said, he wasn’t too concerned.
"It was just like a slow dribble of bogeys rather than hitting if off-line too often," Westwood said. ""My game wasn't that bad. Just one of those weeks. I'm old enough now to be able to put them out of my mind and be able to refocus. ..
"And it's the Ryder Cup. If you can't get up for this one, you're going to struggle to get up for anything."
Westwood, who has a 16-11-6 Ryder Cup record, wasted precious little time getting back in the flow of things at Medinah when he teamed with Luke Donald in Tuesday's practice round to beat Ian Poulter and Justin Rose.
Westwood and Donald have history together – beating Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker 6 and 5 in Four-balls during the 2010 Ryder Cup. Poulter and Rose played three matches together in 2008 and went 2-1.
"We came out fast, and we were just way too good for Ian and Justin," Westwood said with a grin. "And they are a lot lighter this morning in their pockets."
"It's always pleasing when you're able to take cash out of Poulter's wallet," Donald agreed. "A few moths fell out at the same time but it was fun. We both played well. We made a bunch of birdies together and again, who knows if we'll play together but we certainly have a good chemistry between us."
According to Poulter's twitter account, Westwood and Donald shot 13 under as a team.
"We got absolutely trounced," Poulter said on Wednesday during his pre-tournament interview. "So that was not much fun when you pop into the ATM machine."
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
On the eve of the FedExCup Playoffs finale, 10 percent of the 30-man field re-signed multi-year equipment contracts with Ping.
Louis Oosthuizen, Lee Westwood and Bubba Watson – Nos. 6, 8 and 11 in the standings coming into the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola – all have been longtime Ping staffers and will stay that way, the company announced Wednesday.
Westwood, 39, has played Ping clubs for 27 years, while Watson has played the company’s clubs since he was a teenager. Oosthuizen made arguably the shot of the year by holing out an S56 4-iron from 255 yards out on the second hole at Augusta National on Sunday -- the fourth double eagle in Masters history.
Ever wonder what is demanded within a full-line equipment contract? In a release, Ping said that the three stars will wear the company’s name on hats and bags and play a minimum of 11 Ping clubs, including a company driver and putter.
DIVINE NINE: Do you have any clubs in your bag that are 9 years old, or older? Golf.com discovered that Phil Mickelson used a 9-year-old Titleist 980F 5-wood at the BMW Championship, replacing his Callaway Razr Fit 5-wood. When Mickelson first used that club, he was still a Titleist staff player. He moved to Callaway in 2004 and has mostly played that company’s clubs ever since, but with Phil being Phil, you never know what will resurface in the bag.