LYTHAM, England - Agence France-Presse
Lee Westwood of England watches his tee shot on the second hole during a practice round ahead of the British Open golf championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes. REUTERS Photo
Lee Westwood is hoping that a relaxed attitude, familiarity with the course and a slice of luck at the right time will see him finally win a major title at the British Open this week.
The 39-year-old Englishman is firmly established as the nearly-man of world golf with eight top-10 finishes in the past 10 majors, including runner-up showings at the 2010 Masters and British Open.
He has been at it again this year with a third place finish at the Masters and a close call at last month’s U.S. Open, when he was handily placed in the final round only for his ball to lodge up a tree from his drive at the fifth hole.
For most players, it would all add to the pressure going into Royal Lytham, where Westwood is hoping to become the first Englishman to win The Open on home turf since Tony Jacklin’s triumph here in 1969.
But Westwood sees it otherwise.
“I think I’ve gotten more relaxed and just sort of played and let the cards fall where they may, really,” he said of his attitude in the face of so many disappointments in the majors since making his debut at The Open of 1995. “I don’t find myself pressing particularly harder. I think because they are such a tough test, it’s hard to press in major championships.Conservative play
“You sort of have to edge your way in there and play sort of conservatively and get in position for the weekend and Sunday afternoon on the back nine see where you are, and then judge whether you should have a go for it or not.” Westwood has a particular fondness for Royal Lytham, having played it several times as an amateur and twice in The Open, missing the cut as a youngster in 1996 and tieing for 47th behind David Duval in 2001.
And the fact that there is the lure of emulating Jacklin’s famous win in 1969 makes the prospect of winning on Sunday all the more mouthwatering for him. But Westwood is determined to avoid the occasion getting too pressurized for him. “It’s fun to play - we have very few tournaments in England now, so it’s fun to play in front of a home crowd and feel all that support, but it doesn’t really add to the pressure,” he said.