Lee Westwood always seems to be the bridesmaid, and never the bride. The perennial 'nearly man' of golf has twice been a runner-up and twice placed third in major competitions. However, he must fancy his chances of landing his first major come championship Sunday.
The 2010 tournament would have been a bitter pill to swallow for the Englishman. The overnight leader started his fourth round erratically, carding three bogeys and two birdies over the front nine, whereas Phil Mickelson plugged away, picking up pars on the first seven and two birdies on 8 and 9. An improved back nine was not enough for Westwood, finishing three shots off the pace at 13 under par.
Most golfers would feel hard done by after Mickelson's second on the Par-5 13th. One of the great shots in Masters history and arguably the turning point for Mickelson, it led to consecutive eagles and a birdie on 15, leaving "Lefty" only one shot behind Westwood.
However, Westwood is not 'most golfers'. With a 'glass half-full' outlook on life, he will take only positives from 2010. His score of 13 under would win him 25 of the last 30 Masters; to replicate such form would virtually ensure a Green Jacket.
Mixed omens of late for the former world No. 2: the superstitious among us could interpret consecutive birdies on holes 11, 12 and 13 at last week’s Shell Houston Open as a sign. The same run of holes constitute possibly the most recognisable stretch in world golf, Amen Corner at Augusta.
Curiously, however, the same competition also saw Westwood make an assured start before faltering and falling back. Who made a charge and took the victory? Phil Mickelson. The parallels are uncanny.
Psychic foresight aside, Westwood's Augusta preparation has gone fairly well, placing in the top 20 in two tournaments while looking impressive early in the Shell Houston Open, despite his less than desirable finish. His long game and iron play is solid, and if he can work on correcting his dodgy putting of late, then he's in with a chance.
It is likely Lee Westwood will again be in contention at the Augusta Masters. I believe this and the bookmakers believe this, with many slating him as third favorite behind Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. If you fancy a flutter, 12/1 odds for a Westwood victory looks a steal.
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