Lee Westwood, Bryson DeChambeau reprise their regular gameWill be paired in final group, final round for second straight week at THE PLAYERS
March 13, 2021
By Cameron Morfit , PGATOUR.COM
- March 13, 2021
Lee Westwood shoots 4-under 68 to lead by 2 after Round 3 at THE PLAYERS
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Let’s try this again.
For the second straight Sunday on the PGA TOUR, Lee Westwood (68, 13 under) and Bryson DeChambeau (67, 11 under) will make up the last group on the last day at THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass.
“Really looking forward to it,” said Westwood, who made nine straight pars to start his third round but made four back-nine birdies. “I enjoy playing with him. I enjoy his company and his caddie’s company. It’s like round two, the rematch.”
Westwood, 47, will be vying for what he said would be the biggest victory of his career, one that has seen him rack up 42 worldwide victories – including two TOUR wins – but no majors.
DeChambeau, 27, would be the first FedExCup leader to win here since Tiger Woods (2013).
The final twosome will have plenty of accomplished players behind them.
A resurgent Justin Thomas (64) and first-timer Dough Ghim (68) are at 10 under, just three back, while Paul Casey (67) – who made the cut here for just the fifth time in 13 starts – Jon Rahm (67) and Brian Harman (69) are also right in the thick of it at 9 under, four behind.
It’s the Westwood-DeChambeau reprisal, though, that has people talking.
Westwood went into the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard last Sunday with a one-shot lead over DeChambeau, who wound up beating him by a shot. This time the leader Westwood, who will turn 48 next month and would be the second oldest PLAYERS Champion (Fred Funk, 2005), will take a two-shot cushion into Sunday.
“Well, in junior golf,” DeChambeau said, when asked when he’d last gone head-to-head with the same player in two consecutive tournaments. “That's about it. But it was the same couple guys.”
Bryson DeChambeau's delicate chip from tough lie saves par at THE PLAYERS
In the ShotLink era (2003) the only other time the same two players have gone head-to-head in the final group in two straight stroke-play events on TOUR was when Adam Scott and Vijay Singh battled for the 2006 TOUR Championship and ’07 Sentry Tournament of Champions.
Asked what stands out about Westwood after playing with him a week ago, DeChambeau, who ranks eighth in Strokes Gained: Approach The Green through three rounds, didn’t hesitate to cite Westwood’s girlfriend and caddie, fitness instructor Helen Storey.
“She's keeping him steady and level-headed,” he said, “and she's a rock. Keeps his mind focused on the right things, and she's been awesome for him. That's one of his secret weapons, I think.”
“Yeah, I think at my stage of my career, there's not a lot a caddie can tell me,” he said, “but obviously Helen gets me in a fantastic mood out there, and psychologically she can help me and say the things that I need to hear. She helps me in that aspect an immeasurable amount.”
As for what impresses him about DeChambeau, Westwood mentioned versatility. Bay Hill, he said, is a different sort of course, allowing a player to “open up the shoulders” and hit the long ball. The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, where hazards lurk seemingly everywhere? Not so much.
“Credit to Bryson,” said Westwood, who is one for six in converting 54-hole leads/co-leads into victories on TOUR. “You wouldn’t association this golf course with his style of game.”
Not that the Stadium Course is a bad fit, he clarified. It’s just not as good a fit as Bay Hill.
“But he’s up there,” Westwood said. “It just shows he can adapt his game.”
Westwood is seeking to win in his 15th start at THE PLAYERS, which would match the most starts by a first-time winner in tournament history (Tom Kite, 1989; Funk, ’05).
DeChambeau is seeking to become the fourth to win the week immediately preceding a victory at THE PLAYERS, and first since Woods in 2001.
“Definitely not a two-horse race,” said Westwood, who had five top-10 finishes in 14 starts here coming into this week. “And this golf course is one of the hardest to front-run on, as well.”
One hazard neither Westwood nor DeChambeau will encounter Sunday: a lack of familiarity with their playing partner.