Lee Westwood says he’s enjoying his golf more than ever after coming up one shot shy of Justin Thomas’ winning mark at The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.
The Englishman went into the final round holding his second 54-hole lead in as many weeks, looking to go one place better than his runner-up finish to Bryson DeChambeau at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. However, with Thomas finding his groove with a Sunday 68, a tiring Westwood was unable to produce his best stuff, an ever par 72 helping him to a $1.6 million dollar consolation prize, taking his defeat with perspective firmly intact.
“I do enjoy the game more,” said the 47-year old post-round. “I take it for what it is: A game. We’re just trying to get a little white ball into a little white hole. It gets treated far too seriously occasionally. With what’s going on in the world, it’s fun to be doing a job that I love and that I’ve done for 28 years, and I’m still doing it.
“You know, there’s no down side, really. I didn’t deserve to win today because I didn’t hit the ball well enough. You’ve just got to be — you’ve got to have realities in your life, and my life is full of reality.”
Westwood had spoken post-round Saturday of tiredness starting to creep in, something he hoped he could hold at bay to ensure his energy levels were optimised for the final round. Unfortunately that proved a bridge too far for the new world number 19 who could only see the positives despite another near-miss on the PGA Tour.
“Oh, yeah, just an unbelievable amount of positives,” Westwood added. “I didn’t play my best today. My legs felt a bit heavy, and I felt a little bit lethargic, like I wasn’t swinging as well and I wasn’t striking the ball as well, and that was evident from the tee shots off 2, 4, 11 — I really got away with those. Didn’t hit a particularly long one off 16. And this week I’ve been carrying a 3-iron, and I’ve got a massive gap between 3-iron and 3-wood, and 3-wood was too much at 16, and 3-iron I knew was going to bring that tree into play.
“What do I take from the two weeks? Just a lot of pride. I ground it out today, gave myself a chance, I suppose, at the end. Made some nice birdie putts, nice par putts. Last week was also very good. You know, these are world-class fields. These are young guys that I’m giving 20, 25 years to most of them, and yeah, I’m still contending. I’m enjoying it. It’s a thrill to be out here and still playing well.”
And why wouldn’t he be enjoying it? Westwood, along with our own Shane Lowry, hopped on a private jet on Sunday night headed for Augusta where the pair will play two rounds alongside Westwood’s son, Sam, and Lowry’s coach Neil Manchip. No doubt they’ll have a couple of bets at Cheltenham while they’re at it before Lowry tees up on Thursday at the Honda.
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