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June 13 2012

12:37 AM

Westwood hopes changes pay off

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Lee Westwood, who is one of the favorites at the U.S. Open, practices at The Olympic Club on Tuesday.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

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."

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