Golf: Open set to be classic, says Westwood

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Lee Westwood believes the Open this year at Muirfield could be a classic.

The former world number one spent a day on the links yesterday to get an early feel for the set-up and has praised the course conditions.

Golfer Lee Westwood at the Have a Heart Trophy Event at Close House Golf Club, Heddon on the Wall. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire.

Golfer Lee Westwood at the Have a Heart Trophy Event at Close House Golf Club, Heddon on the Wall. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire.

With fair weather a possibility next week, the 40-year-old from Worksop felt this could be a great championship.

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He said: “It was good, it’s in incredible condition.

“It will be a tough test. If there’s a nice breeze blowing around there it will be a difficult Open.

“The rough’s up but the fairways and greens, everything’s in superb condition.

“It could be a great Open.”

Whether the wind blows or it is unusually benign, Westwood feels he is in a position to do well.

“I dont really mind what kind of weather it is,” he said.

Playing at a charity golf day at his own Close House course in Northumberland under blue skies, he said: Obviously if it’s like this they are great Open Championships when thousands of people turn out and have a great time.”

Asked if he would prefer some of the long rough to be burnt off in the heatwave, he replied: “I’m not bothered. I’m not planning on going in it. I’m not really fussed.”

This year Westwood has prepared for the third major of the year by taking time off from the Tour and will spend some time with his family, with plans to play some English links courses before taking on the challenge of Muirfield next week.

He said: “Normally I’d play the French Open or the Scottish Open but this time I’ve had three weeks off to relax and recharge my batteries.

“I have gone early yesterday to have a look at the golf course we’ll see.”

His game has been boosted after he received some help with his putting from former Open champion Ian Baker-Finch.

“I’m playing all right,” he said.

“I’ve played okay this year without any really great results but I have had a couple of chances to win.

“My whole game’s good, so I’m looking forward to getting going next week and playing the Open again.”

Westwood - who was playing with Alan Shearer and TV duo Ant and Dec in the Lee Westwood Have a Heart Children’s Heart Unit Fund (CHUF) golf day at his course, which is owned by the businessman Graham Wylie, whose daughter received life-saving treatment when she was newborn - has moved to Florida with the aim of helping his golf.

Asked if British fans will be seeing a different Lee Westwood, he joked: “Probably a more tanned one.

“My wife and kids have settled in nicely and everyone’s enjoying it. They are enjoying school. It’s a nice lifestyle out there.”