The power of positive finally pays off for Westwood

Sommers/Getty Images
Lee Westwood celebrated his second PGA TOUR win -- and first in 12 years -- with fans in Memphis.
June 13, 2010
Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM Site Producer

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Rory McIlroy had to wait about four hours before he could finally leave TPC Southwind. Pfft. That's nothing. Lee Westwood has been waiting 12 years.

That's how long it took Westwood to get his second career victory on the PGA TOUR. Naturally, even that took longer than it should have with Westwood finally winning the longest sudden-death playoff in the history of the St. Jude Classic presented by Smith & Nephew.


Of course when you're Westwood, you'll take it any way you can get it.

"It just shows you, don't expect nothing in this game because you never know what's going to happen next," said Westwood, who won with a birdie on the fourth extra hole.

McIlroy certainly didn't. He finished his round in the early afternoon, but he had to stick around because Westwood was his ride to Pebble Beach for next week's U.S. Open. Actually, about a half-dozen people, Westwood included, expected to be on that charter about two hours earlier.

So McIlroy watched ... and watched ... and watched some more a tournament that seemingly no one wanted to win. Blame Robert Garrigus. He could have ended this whole thing if not for a triple-bogey 7 on the 72nd hole that landed him in a three-way playoff with Westwood and Robert Karlsson.

Which is sort of ironic because just a little while earlier it was Westwood who looked like he had let another one slip through what were decidedly sweaty fingers on a muggy day in Memphis.

Trailing by a stroke as he came to the par-5 16th, Westwood only managed par after leaving a bunker shot some 30 feet short of the hole. On the par-4 17th, he airmailed the green on his approach and made bogey before finally parring in.

That put Westwood three behind Garrigus. Only this time it was someone else who tripped over themselves.

Garrigus stumbled into the playoff and fell out of it with a bogey on the first hole after his tee shot landed behind a tree on No. 18.

Karlsson, meanwhile, missed an 11-footer to win on the second extra hole, No. 11, then missed from 5 feet on No. 12 after watching Westwood also miss the exact same putt from the exact same spot. Both men made bogey and on they went for what turned out to be one more hole.

When Westwood, who shot a final-round 2-under 68, had finished regulation at 10 under, he didn't know there would be a playoff.

"You certainly don't think three behind ... ," Westwood said. "It's amazing how things pan out."

What's just as amazing is how Westwood has continued to pick himself up throughout an emotional rollercoaster of a career. And every time he did -- most recently at THE PLAYERS Championship, where he tumbled to a tie for fourth after a final-round 74, and the Masters, where Phil Mickelson stole his Green Jacket with a final-round 66 -- he did so without a care in the world.

Footloose and fancy-free, that was Westwood.

Westwood wins

Watch Lee Westwood's victory in Memphis

"There are worse things that can happen," Westwood said. "I've had highs and lows. I've dropped down in the world rankings and come back up. To be contending in golf tournaments is a real positive because I couldn't see a fairway or the golf course eight years ago. What is there not to enjoy?"

Indeed. Before turning 30, Westwood had stormed his way through Europe and 25 wins around the world, including seven in the 2000 season. Within two years, though, everything started going awry.

Westwood eventually plummeted to No. 256 in the world and came close to quitting golf. "He simply couldn't find his way back," his father, John, told a British newspaper at the time.

Until 2007. That's when Westwood finally won again, capturing the Open De Andalucia and the British Masters to climb back into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Rankings. He hasn't looked back since and this year Westwood has reached a career high of No. 3.

"It's definitely nice to win again," admitted Westwood, whose last victory on the PGA TOUR had come in 1998 in New Orleans. "Nobody likes negative questions when you try to be positive all the time.

"Golf is a funny game. Sometimes it gives. Sometimes it takes away."

Sunday, it gave plenty, and Westwood was happy about that.

So was McIlroy. He could finally catch his plane to Pebble Beach, but not before congratulating Westwood.