Lee Westwood is riding a wave of confidence at Pebble Beach, where he hopes to lift his first major championship at the US Open, which starts today, after a slew of near misses. Consistency has been the name of the game for Westwood, the world No 3, who has finished in the top three of the last three majors, and comes to his favourite golf course fresh off victory at the US Tour's St Jude Classic last Sunday.
"It gives you a lot of confidence, obviously, but it's practising playing under pressure and having to make putts when it counts," Westwood told reporters about the benefits of his success in Memphis as he prepares to mount his challenge to win a major. "Obviously to come out on top last week is a big confidence boost going into a major championship," said the Englishman, whose triumph on Sunday was his first on US soil in 12 years.
Westwood said he fell in love with Pebble Beach when he first saw the Pacific coast layout when it last hosted the US Open. "When I first got here in 2000 it became my favourite golf course," said Westwood, who will play the first two rounds with Tiger Woods and Ernie Els. "It's an amazing stretch of land and a dramatic coastline to have a golf course like this where no holes, no two holes are the same.
"There is a lot of little special things about the place and I don't think it's a golf course you can ever tire of playing. "You see something different out there all the time. And it has different challenges. The wind obviously affects the golf course when you're aside the ocean and it's just such a spectacular place to play. If you have a bad day you can have a look around and it cheers you up a bit."
Westwood said he was pleased about his pairing with Woods, a 14-times major winner, and triple major champion Els. "Playing with Tiger, I've always enjoyed that," said Westwood. "You expect him to be there or thereabouts at the end of the week on the leaderboard. "So to play with him the first two days you get to keep a closer eye on him and if he plays well sometimes that momentum could pull you through along with him if you are playing well." * Reuters
PGA Tour US Open Site: Pebble Beach, California Schedule: Thursday-Sunday. Course: Pebble Beach Golf Links (7,040 yards, 6,438 meters, par 71). Purse: TBA ($7.5 million in 2009). Winner's share: TBA ($1.35 million in 2009). Last year: Lucas Glover won the rain-delayed tournament in a Monday finish at Bethpage Black on Long Island, closing with a 3-over 73 for a two-stroke victory over Phil Mickelson, David Duval and Ricky Barnes. Glover finished at 4-under 276. European Tour Saint-Omer Open Site: Aa Saint Omer Golf Club, Lumbres, France Course: Aa Saint Omer Golf Club (par 71, 6,259 yards) Purse: ¤600,000 (Dh2.7 million) 2009 champion: Christian Nilsson Race to Dubai rankings Golfer Country Earnings 1. Poulter England ¤1,376,800 2. Schwartzel S. Africa ¤1,332,962 3. Els S. Africa ¤1,246,906 4. Westwood England ¤1,102,627 5. Davies Wales ¤997,425