Lee Westwood hopes to make experience count as he chases maiden major title

England's Lee Westwood tees off the 5th during practice day three of The Open Championship 2017 at Royal Birkdale Golf Club, Southport. Pic: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.
England's Lee Westwood tees off the 5th during practice day three of The Open Championship 2017 at Royal Birkdale Golf Club, Southport. Pic: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.
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Lee Westwood hopes to use “cunning and guile” to finally claim a first major title in the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.

Westwood’s share of second place in the 2016 Masters extended his unwanted record of the most top-three finishes in major championships without a victory to nine.

Three of those have come in the Open, with the Worskop man missing out on the play-off between Tom Watson and Stewart Cink by a shot in 2009 and failing to convert a two-shot lead after 54 holes in 2013. “I’m still hitting the ball as good as always” said Westwood, 44, who was also a distant second to Louis Oosthuizen at St Andrews in 2010. “You think a bit differently as you get older, but hopefully I can think more wisely and use a bit of cunning and guile on the course.” Darren Clarke, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson were all over the age of 40 when they won the Open in successive years.

And Westwood feels links golf gives him a better chance of winning one of golf’s four biggest prizes.

“One of the times I’ve come close to winning was Turnberry and Tom Watson lost in a play-off at 59,” he added. “Last time it was held around here (in 2008) Greg Norman made a run at it at 53.

“The US Open course (Erin Hills) was a bomber’s style course where they had a big advantage, but this course brings a lot more players into it. The Open Championship always does with the weather and the way the golf course plays.

“You have to think your way around it.”

Westwood refused to comment on his recent split from International Sports Management and his manager of 24 years, Andrew ‘Chubby’ Chandler, calling it a “personal matter.”

But he insisted he was not unsettled by the change, adding: “I’m pretty good at focusing. I’m pleased with how my swing is. I’m pleased with how I’m putting.

“My short game is good and I’ve played well along this coast before.”