Regardless of his major championship record, Lee Westwood has been one of the best players of his generation. He reached number one in the world in 2011 and has 44 career professional victories.
44 professional wins is an astounding total for any player, but Westwood is far more known for his major championship heartbreak. The 48-year old has nine top-5 finishes in majors without a win, the most all-time by someone without a victory. This Open marks Westwood’s 88th major championship start, and If he fails to knock the monkey off his back this week, he will break Jay Haas’ record for most major starts without a win.
As always, Westwood is focusing on the positives of his situation.
“It shows I've been a good player for a long, long time. There's not many people who have played in as many major championships as me,” Westwood said.
Westwood has had a resurgence this season and is in great form heading into The Open. The Brit finished second at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Players and logged at T13 finish at the US Open last month. He is also coming off a week at the Scottish Open where he played far better than his T35 finish would indicate.
Westwood has missed the cut at the last two Opens at Royal St. George’s, which led him to think that he didn’t like the golf course, but he said that changed when he arrived on the grounds this week.
“I couldn't remember the golf course too much, probably because I didn't have that much experience of playing on it, only having played two rounds each Open. I enjoyed it,” Westwood said. “Enjoyed the conditions and had good company to play with, Dustin (Johnson), Rory (Mcilroy) and Danny (Willett). It turned my head around and made me look forward to the week even more.”
While he hasn’t had much success at Royal St. George’s as a professional, he did win a 36-hole event at the course as an amateur, so he does have some good memories to fall back on. He has also had plenty of success in the Open with four career top-5 finishes, including a T4 finish in 2019 at Royal Portrush.
Westwood has been grinding on Tour for 28 years, and if he needs a model on how experience can help a player breakthrough, he should look no further than Darren Clarke, who won The Open the last time it was contested at Royal St. George’s in 2011.
“My years of experience, I guess, helped me during the week, and I was ready to step across the line and win the biggest and best tournament in the world and the one that I always wanted to win,” Clarke said.
Royal St. George’s produced a couple of longshot winners in 2003 and 2011. Ben Curtis was the longest of longshots at 300/1 when he won his Open Championship. Clarke was 125/1 when he won the Claret Jug.
Westwood has far better odds at 40/1 entering the week, and while it wouldn’t be the most surprising, it would be one hell of a story if he wins.