What they said: Lee Westwood

June 08, 2011
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: FedEx St. Jude Classic transcript archive

THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome defending champion Lee Westwood to the interview room here at the FedExCup St. Jude Classic. Thanks for your time. If you could start us off with just a few thoughts on being back here in Memphis after the victory last year.

LEE WESTWOOD: Well, I mean, it's great to be back. It's always nice to come back and defend a title. You know, it was a spectacular way to win last year in a playoff, and I'm looking forward to this week. It's not too hot at the moment, but I believe it's going to get right up there. But yeah, it'll be a good week.

THE MODERATOR: You obviously come in playing well after a second in your last start in Europe. If you could talk about the state of your game coming into this week.

LEE WESTWOOD: Well, the game is pretty good since the Masters. Over 72 holes nobody has beat me in stroke play, so I've been playing pretty well. Confidence is high, and I'm looking forward to playing this week the way I've been playing recently. It should be a good couple of weeks.

Q. Do you always come back to a place you've won and try to defend??

LEE WESTWOOD: Try to come back and defend whenever I can. I think it's only happened once over 35 or 36 times where I haven't been able to come back, and that's because two tournaments were scheduled on the same week. So I've always tried to get back.

Q. Was it difficult this year because of your situation and having to balance out, you only had so many exemptions and that sort of thing??

LEE WESTWOOD: Well, it wasn't really difficult, no. This was one of the first ones that went in. It's a priority for me to try to come and defend whenever I can, and I like to play the week before a major championship. I was fairly sure I was going to use this as one of my three invites, yeah.

Q. Has it changed the last couple years? You're at the top of the rankings. How has your viewpoint changed as far as approaching golf courses and maybe the pressure and more eyes on you?

LEE WESTWOOD: My viewpoint has not changed very much. The demands on my time have become greater. That's really the only change, I suppose. I get recognized a little more, but other than that I've tried not to let it change me too much and just get on with what I like to do, which is playing golf competitively and trying to win golf tournaments.

Q. Do you have feelings one way or the other about Tiger pulling out of the Open??

LEE WESTWOOD: Tiger pulling out of the U.S. Open next week? Well, I was injured all the second part of last year, so I know what it's like to try and play with an injury. I can't really sort of comment on Tiger as such, but I know if you're going to play well and contend for tournaments, you have to be practicing hard, and no matter who you are, you need to be pretty much on the top of your game. To do that you have to be able to go home away from tournaments and work constantly on your game, really, be able to practice. And if you're injured -- all I was doing was going home, going in the gym, having physio, having massage on my leg, which I would imagine is what Tiger is going through, and then after that they say he's supposed to rest it for the rest of the day, and after that there's no time to practice.

If you don't feel you're dedicated the right amount of time to your game to get to a stage where you're competitive enough to be right up there, which I'm assuming Tiger turns up at a U.S. Open thinking he can win it, then there's no point in really being there unless you can give it 100 percent. So I can see why he's pulled out. I think it's a mistake to try and play injured. I made that mistake last year at the Bridgestone and had to pull out after two rounds.

I know what he's going through, and you have to try and get yourself back to 100 percent fit or back as much as possible so you can then start to work on your game as you would like to.

Q. You said you liked to play a week before a major championship. Do you approach it any differently? Is your mindset any different the week before a major?

LEE WESTWOOD: No, not really. I just like to be competitive. I like to have that feeling of needing to make three- and four-footers on the green and that extra pressure, hopefully get into contention, have some pressure put on me the week before a major championship just so if it happens the following week you're accustomed to it and it's happened recently.

Q. Does this course help you at all for next week??

LEE WESTWOOD: This is quite a demanding test. You know, there are a lot of tough shots out there, some good par-3s. The 18th hole is probably one of the best finishing holes on the PGA TOUR I would say. So you really have to be on your game. If you don't play well around here and you start hitting it in the rough regularly, it can be difficult to control the spin on your ball. It certainly demands that you hit the fairways and hit the greens, which is pretty much the blueprint for playing good U.S. Open golf, as well.

Q. Can you talk about your season last year? You were spectacular in PGA events and then you said you got hurt. It was kind of like a tale of two seasons; you had it going and then you got hurt?

LEE WESTWOOD: The season didn't really break down. I obviously got the injury just after the U.S. Open, the week of the French Open, and I played very well up to there and was able to practice after that. I had to limit my schedule. But still, I turned up at the Open and finished second; turned up at the World Golf Championship in China, finished second; Dubai, third; Nedbank, first, to finish off the year. So considering I played like six tournaments, five tournaments, and finished top three in four of them, the year didn't really drop off, it was just I wasn't able to play -- the second half of the year I wasn't able to practice.

Q. How do you manage an injury? Some guys when they get injured they just can't manage it. Obviously you know how to manage one where you still play and play pretty well.

LEE WESTWOOD: I think it depends on technically how good you are, really. You know, if you've got good technique, then you can spend time away from the game. Obviously -- well, I say obviously, but me, my short game suffers when I can't practice, but I was able to go out a bit and hit a few chips every now and then but I just wasn't able to hit ball more than say half an hour. So you know, it's a lot about time management and listening to the experts really and taking on board what they say about getting plenty of rest and icing regularly and physio on it and massage. Steve McGregor fortunately is one of the best in business at looking after that type of injury.

Q. Are you concerned about back-to-back weeks at very hot temperatures??

LEE WESTWOOD: No, not really. It was hotter than this in Indonesia a few weeks back when I won and then the following week I followed it up with a win, so it's not really something -- you can see that a physical specimen I am right now, so it's something I just get on with. (Laughter.)

Q. The way that this finished up last year, and you were about ready to pack up and leave, how bizarre was all that and what do you remember about the mood swings or whatever??

LEE WESTWOOD: Well, it was an amazing finish, really. Signing my card I didn't really think I had a chance, and they said, don't run off anywhere, you'd better hang on five minutes just to see what happens. It all unfolded. But that's how golf is. Sometimes you don't win tournaments you think you should have won, and sometimes you win tournaments that some other guy should have won.

If you put yourself in the position often enough, that's going to happen. It's just that you've got to put yourself in the position. If you do it regularly, then you've got more chance of it happening.

THE MODERATOR: Lee, thanks for your time. Play well this week.