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.
The top 30 in FedExCup points are headed to East Lake for the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. Here’s a look at Lee Westwood, one of the 30 players who will contend for the FedExCup title.
SCENARIOS TO WIN FEDEXCUP: For Westwood to win the
FedExCup, he MUST win the TOUR Championship and have the following
scenarios fall into place:
> Rory McIlroy (No. 1) finishes 3rd* or worse
> Tiger Woods (No. 2) finishes T-2* or worse
> Nick Watney (No. 3) finishes 2nd* or worse
> *Tie for the FedExCup
Click here for scenarios of every player
SEASON IN REVIEW: The affable Englishman decided to re-join the PGA TOUR after watching the FedExCup Playoffs on TV last year and feeling like he was missing out. Westwood has posted top-10 finishes in half of his 14 starts in the States this year, including the first two majors and two of the three Playoffs events. His tie for second at the BMW Championship gave him a big boost as he moved up 23 spots in the FedExCup standings as he heads to Atlanta for the first time. -- Helen Ross
PATH TO TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP: Here’s a look at
Westwood's results in the first three events of the 2012 FedExCup
Click here for Playoffs Tracker of every player.
|FEC ranking after event||
PREVIOUS FEDEXCUP FINISHES: Here is how Westwood has finished in previous Playoffs appearances:
EAST LAKE HISTORY: This will be Westwood's first start at East Lake.
ALBERS’ QUICK TAKE: Fred Albers, on-course
correspondent for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, provides a quick look at
Here's your dark horse. Westwood has been gathering momentum under new short game coach Tony Johnstone. Might have won last week's BMW Championship if not for hitting a couple of strange chips on Sunday at Crooked Stick. Might be peaking at the right time.
PLAYER PAGE: Click here for more on Lee Westwood
Now it’s your turn. How do you think Westwood will fare at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola?
CARMEL, Ind. -- The leaderboard at the BMW Championship couldn't be more high-powered.
Not only does it feature two of the current top three players in both the FedExCup and the world -- Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, who rank Nos. 1 and 3, respectively in both categories -- there are a total of four who have topped the Official World Golf Ranking during their careers.
Vijay Singh, who leads by one shot, was ranked No. 1 for 32 weeks while Lee Westwood, who is two strokes behind, held down the same spot for 22. Woods, of course, is the all-time record-holder at 623 weeks while McIlroy is in his fourth stint at No. 1 in the world for a total of 11 weeks.
Of the four, only Westwood has yet to rank No. 1 in the FedExCup. Woods and Singh both have won the $10 million and Tiffany trophy with the American capturing the FedExCup in 2007 and '09 and the big man from Fiji earning it in 2008.
McIlroy is in his second stint as the FedExCup No. 1 right now, returning to the top when he won last week's Deutsche Bank Championship. The victory was his third of the season, tying Woods in that category, although McIroy owns the only major between the two after winning the PGA Championship by eight strokes.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
FARMINGDALE, N.Y. -- Lee Westwood didn't like being on the outside looking in when the FedExCup Playoffs rolled around the last few years.
He was intrigued by the way the pressure mounted each week. The list of winners was pretty darn impressive, too. So Westwood re-joined the PGA TOUR in 2012 and has played well enough this year to start the four-event series seeded a solid 51st.
And now that he's here on Long Island for the kickoff at The Barclays, the Playoffs are just what the affable Englishman expected.
"That's the reason I joined the TOUR this year, I suppose -- watching the Playoffs on TV last year and thinking that I was missing out on playing in some big tournaments," Westwood said. "After the majors are over there can be a bit of an anticlimax. But these come so quick after the PGA Championship that it's almost like there's something to go at.
"I know that being a member of the European Tour, you know, we still are playing to the finale and all that. But these are massive events. They looked it on TV and I turned up at them, certainly this one, and I wasn't disappointed. It feels like a big tournament."
Westwood was a member of the PGA TOUR in 2008, which was the second year of the Playoffs. He was 50th when the Playoffs began but decided not to participate, playing instead at the Johnnie Walker Championship prior to returning to the States for the Ryder Cup at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kent.
While Westwood, who ranks No. 4 in the world, is playing in his first Playoffs, he has already grasped the sense of urgency that permeates the series. He knows the points are worth quintuple what they were during the Regular Season and those who don't play well are eliminated each week -- the fields dwindling from 125 to 100 to 70 to just 30 who head to East Lake for the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola with a chance to win the $10 million prize.
"It's a bit of a mad rush, isn't it, to the finishing line," Westwood said. "You have to play well this time of year to do well in it. ... There is a certain build-up to the rest of the year. But these are worth more points. You play poorly you don't progress. You play well you get a good chance to win it."
Westwood, who plans to move his family to the West Palm Beach, Fla., area during the offseason, has made some changes so he'll be able to play his best during this stretch run, too. He recently left his long-time coach Pete Cowan to begin working with Zimbabwe’s Tony Johnstone on his short game.
"I've never really worked with anybody on my long game -- that's in good order," Westwood said. "But I did four days work with Tony last week and I might have a few good ideas to try over the next few weeks."
Westwood missed the cut in his last start in the U.S. at the PGA Championship. But he has five top-10s in 11 starts on TOUR this year, including a tie for third at the Masters and a share of 10th at the U.S. Open.
He has some history at Bethpage State Park's Black Course, too. Westwood tied for 23rd there, shooting a 66 in the second round.
"It's going to be interesting playing it this week dry," he said. "The other times we've been here it's been soaking wet. So it will play different dry. It's a good test.
"It's set up very similar to a U.S. Open with a little less rough but the same width fairways."
AKRON, Ohio -- Lee Westwood has played in 40 World Golf Championships, more than anyone else in history.
Westwood parred his first hole, then didn't make another until No. 9. In fact, he only made six pars all day -- along with 10 bogeys, one double bogey and just one birdie.
The 81 was Westwood's highest score ever at Firestone Country Club, eclipsing the 79 the affable Englishman shot in the third round in 2007. He's now 11 over and fell to 70th in the 75-man field after hitting just three fairways and nine greens on Saturday while taking 36 putts.
Westwood's playing partner, Phil Mickelson, had a tough day, too. He shot a 73 and is now 3 over for the tournament. Mickelson hit three fairways, five greens and used 26 putts.
The pairings have been unveiled for this week’s PGA TOUR Matchups Game on Facebook. You can check out the Matchups for the British Open below, or on the PGA TOUR’s Facebook page.
Participants have until 6 a.m. ET Thursday to make their picks. Log on to the PGA TOUR Facebook page and click the Matchups link to make your picks for this week, or to sign up.
Matchups for the British Open:
|Tiger Woods vs. Bubba Watson||Will these two big hitters bag their drivers for the entire week?|
|Padraig Harrington vs. Rory McIlroy||Two Irishmen -- and two different ways of navigating the links|
|Sergio Garcia vs. Dustin Johnson||Both have come oh-so-close to winning this event|
|Luke Donald vs. Lee Westwood||Will one of these greats finally snag that elusive major?|
|Darren Clarke vs. Louis Oosthuizen||The last two British Open champs clash at Royal Lytham|
SAN FRANCISCO – Don’t look now but the top two players in the world probably won’t be around for the final two rounds of the 112th U.S. Open.
World No. 1 Luke Donald shot 72 on Friday to finish 36 holes at 11 over, which left him tied for 133rd when he signed his scorecard. The normally steady Englishman, who ranks eighth on TOUR in driving accuracy, only hit 46 percent of his fairways and 50 percent of his greens in regulation.
Donald's best finish in a major since taking over No. 1 is a tie for eighth at last year's PGA Championship. He didn’t make a birdie in the first round.
Defending champion Rory McIlroy, who was playing with Donald and is currently ranked No. 2, shot 73 and finished one stroke ahead in a tie for 122nd. McIlroy had ended a streak of three missed cuts with a tie for seventh last week at the FedEx St. Jude Classic.
The frustration was evident at the eighth hole, McIlroy's last of the day, where he missed a 2-footer for par and had to make a putt of nearly three times that distance for his 13th bogey in two rounds. The young Northern Irishman only hit 53 percent of his greens in regulation and 54 percent of his fairways while using 65 putts.
The third member of the group, world No. 3 Lee Westwood, will likely be around for the weekend after a 72 on Friday that left him 5 over for the tournament and tied for 53. Westwood has finished third or better in six of his last 10 majors.
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
SAN FRANCISCO -- The three highest-ranked players in the world were grouped together for Thursday's first round. Sum total of birdies: Three.
"Shows how tough it is," said Luke Donald, the reigning PGA TOUR Player of the Year currently ranked No. 1.
Donald's contribution to the birdie total was zero, as he shot a 9-over 79 that essentially eliminates him from title contention.
Defending U.S. Open champ Rory McIlroy also did major damage to his hopes of repeating, shooting a 7-over 77 that included just one birdie, at the par-3 13th.
Lee Westwood, the third member of the group, had the best round with a 3-over73. He had the other two birdies, which helped him overcome a double bogey at the opening hole.
Westwood, in fact, played very well once he made the turn. He was bogey-free on the back nine and birdied the par-5 17th.
McIlroy was 4 over through 13 holes after his birdie but he unraveled down the stretch, with bogeys in three of his last four holes. The only hole he didn't bogey, ironically enough, was the 670-yard par-5 16th, the second most difficult hole during the round.
"You have to be so precise," McIlroy said. "Anything just a little off and it really punishes you. You have to be precise with your tee shots and your iron shots and leave it on the right side of the pins and today I didn't really do any of that."
The Northern Irishman said he wasn't feeling the pressure of trying to defend his title, saying he approached this week like it was any other tournament.
"I tried to go out there and shoot the best score I could," McIlroy said. "And today wasn't my greatest day, but hopefully I can come out tomorrow morning and try and shoot a good one and at least try to be here for the weekend."
Donald said his "putter kind of went cold" on Thursday, as he needed 36 putts.
"Otherwise," he said, "I could have probably ground out some more respectable score."
Having to grind so hard during their rounds left little time to enjoy each other's company.
"We were focused on ourselves mostly," Donald said. "There was a little bit of chat out there, but not too much.
"The U.S. Open demands your full attention and obviously Lee had a good back nine, but Rory and I both struggled."
SAN FRANCISCO -- Lee Westwood admittedly was a tad jet-lagged.
After all, just three days ago he was winning the Nordea Masters in Stockholm, which is eight time zones away. Westwood flew home to England on Saturday night and caught an 11:45 a.m. flight out of London's Heathrow Airport the following morning, arriving in San Francisco at 2 p.m. local time.
"Started shutting down about an hour ago," Westwood said, grinning, in response to British reporter's query about his body clock. "Must have been the anticipation of coming in here (in the interview room)."
Westwood's five-stroke victory in Sweden, his 37th worldwide, certainly sent him into this week's U.S. Open with momentum. He played well at the Olympic Club in 1998, too, finishing tied for seventh, his first top-10 in the U.S. Open and one of 13 in 57 majors overall.
"It is nice to come off a win, with that confidence," Westwood said. "I expect this week to be a tough test. I've seen the golf course over the last couple of days. And it's difficult, like all U.S. Open tests normally are. This is one of tougher ones. Sets up really well. And tests every aspect of your game."
Westwood, who has finished third or better in seven of his last 15 majors, including a tie for third at the Masters earlier this year, made some significant changes prior to the start of the Nordea Masters, too. He switched from his PING I10s to I20s, changing clubs for just the third time in two decades as a pro.
"I changed to the new PING I20s, I changed wedges, changed putters, and I have a caddie that's only been on the bag two weeks," Westwood said. "There's been quite a lot of changes. That freshens it up a bit. And the results were there for everybody to see, I suppose."
Westwood said he's been practicing with the new irons at home for several months, so he had developed a comfort zone with the clubs. "But I was fairly surprised I played so well with them last week," he acknowledged. "It was a bit explosive out of the blocks to hit so many good iron shots."
The Brit is staying with the I20s, new putter and caddy Mike Waite, otherwise known as Sponge, for the U.S. Open. His long-time looper Billy Foster injured his knee in a charity soccer match prior to THE PLAYERS Championship and is out for the rest of the year.
"He's a good caddy and he's very easy to get along with," Westwood said of Waite. "He's a pretty calm character, fairly similar to myself. ... But he certainly has been a help, and I've enjoyed him working for me the past couple of weeks."
Waite is no stranger to major championship pressure after
caddying for Michael Campbell when he won the 2005 U.S. Open at
Pinehurst No. 2. So Westwood is in good hands as he chases that
elusive breakthrough victory at a course many feel is well-suited
to his game.
"I'm delighted that they think that," Westwood said. "I can't figure out what's my kind of golf course and what isn't anymore. I think my game seems to be fairly well suited to most golf courses. But looking at this one, it really does test you tee to green. It's a good driver's golf course, if you can drive it in play a lot then it gives you a chance to score."