Lee Westwood believes the combination of an aggressive strategy on a demanding golf course can work to his advantage in this week’s US PGA Championship at Oak Hill.
The Worksop golfer gets his 63rd bid for a first major title under way in upstate New York tomorrow after suffering another near-miss in the Open at Muirfield just three weeks ago.
The 40-year-old Englishman took a two-shot lead into the final round and led by three after a birdie on the fifth, but bogeyed four of the remaining 13 holes to eventually card a closing 75 and finish four shots behind Phil Mickelson.
The share of third place means Westwood now has a record eight top-three finishes in major championships without winning one, having previously shared the record of seven with Harry Cooper.
But, on the surface at least, that has not dented his confidence ahead of the final major of the season on a course that could play into his hands.
“Certainly since 2008 I feel like I’ve contended every time I come to a major championship and really, no matter sort of what level my game is at, I can up it for that week,” Westwood said. “I feel like that’s why I’ve probably contended in most of them.”
Mickelson won at Muirfield without a driver in his bag, but Westwood added: “I think if you’re a good driver of the golf ball here, then you can gain a big advantage. You can hit driver a lot. There are rewards for driving the ball long and straight.
“If you drive it well you can make the course play significantly easier. I think there’s some holes where people that maybe aren’t so straight with drivers are going to be hitting an iron off the tee and probably going in with five or six iron, but if you drive it well you are going to be going in with a nine iron or wedge and having a massive advantage.”
Sheffield’s Danny Willett, who made the cut at Muirfield, will also feature in the tournament.