Lee Westwood, who has been knocking on the door of a maiden major triumph for longer than he would have liked, travelled to Hazeltine yesterday in high spirits after ending his challenge for the WGC Bridgestone title with a five-under-par 65 which matched that of the winner Tiger Woods. A round containing only 25 putts in stamina-sapping conditions enabled Westwood to recover from what he called a sloppy start to the Firestone tournament to finish in joint ninth place behind Woods. He aims to take that impressive form into the US PGA tournament in the hope that it will enable him to take that elusive extra step into the realms of major champions.
Knowing that he squandered an outstanding chance of winning last month's British Open a year after being one stroke from a play-off in the US Open, Westwood, 36, said: "I will try and put that right next week and get the 'W' as they say over here." "I got better as the week went on at Firestone so I am really looking forward to the next week," added Westwood, 18 times a winner on the European Tour but enduring an infertile spell on American soil, having won his solitary PGA Tour title 11 years ago.
A rusty world No 2 Phil Mickelson, back in action after a six-week break while helping his wife undergo breast cancer treatment, bemoaned his short game after finishing with a seven-over total of 287. He said "I actually expected to play a lot better than I did. But it became pretty obvious that when I get on green speeds like this and when I get in rough just a little bit thicker, my short game wasn't where it needs to be."