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Thu Apr 24 23:39:21 SAST 2014

Westwood hits back at short game detractors

Reuters | 17 July, 2012 13:240 Comments
141st Open Championship - Previews
Lee Westwood of England watches a shot as Luke Donald looks on during the first practice round prior to the start of the 141st Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes on July 16, 2012 in Lytham St Annes, England
Image by: Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images

Lee Westwood bristled at suggestions the short game was his Achilles heel as the world number three prepared for the latest bid to end his major drought at this week’s British Open.

The 39-year-old Briton is renowned as one of the straightest hitters in golf but critics have pointed a finger at his skills on and around the greens as the reason why he has yet to win one of the ‘big four’ championships.

  “People have said the previous winners at Lytham have all got great short games and apparently I haven’t got much of a short game,” Westwood told reporters on Tuesday.

  “I think my game suits most places. That’s why I’ve contended in most major championships recently.”

 Westwood said his ability on and around the greens was good enough to have twice lifted him to the top of the world rankings.

  “I don’t think you can get to number one without much of a short game,” said the Englishman.

  “I think the thing about professional golf is you’re an individual so you’re lined up there for people to have a look at your game and take criticisms.

  “The people up there in the rankings have got strengths and they’ve got weaknesses. (World number one) Luke Donald’s strengths are from 80 yards in, my strengths are tee to green,” Westwood added.

  “You can’t be the best in the world at everything otherwise you’d be miles in front.”

 Westwood has been consistency personified in recent major championships, seven times finishing in the top five since 2008.

  “Majors are the ultimate test, that’s why everyone puts them on such a pedestal,” said the Ryder Cup stalwart. “I’ve contended most weeks and given myself a chance so I don’t see any reason why this week should be any different.

  “One of the main questions here at Lytham is to hit it as straight as possible. Whoever wins this week will have to have every aspect of their game in top shape.”

 Britain has been soaked by persistent rain in recent months but Westwood struck it lucky when he arrived at the Lancashire links.

  “I played the golf course last night which was a genius move because it was nice weather and there was hardly anybody out there,” he said.

  “It was one of the best Open championship practices I have ever had.”

 Tony Jacklin was the last Englishman to win the Open on home soil, coincidentally at Lytham in 1969, and Westwood would love to follow in his footsteps.

  “It would obviously mean a lot, not just because Tony was the last Englishman to win it, but because this is the biggest championship in the world for me,” he said.

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