He met David Leadbetter there and he set out to remake a golf swing that once had routinely been in the worlds top 10. Now, he was wallowing around near the 240th position. Something had to be done ' either he would improve, or he would pursue another line of work.
And he did improve. A refresher course came for three weeks beginning in August. And this time when he went back to Europe, he immediately won the BMW in Munich. Before the month was over he had done it again, sweeping to victory in the Dunhill Links Championship at St. Andrews.
Somewhere in America, a completely befuddled David Duval had to take note. Duval has been in a terrible tailspin that threatens to careen completely out of control. Duval has already been king of the mountain, No. 1 in the world. Hes already enlisted Leadbetters services. He only has to come 170 miles from his home in Ponte Vedra to see Lord Lead, not journey all the way from Worksop, England. And if Duval needs any encouragement that things are going to be better, he need only focus on those two words ' Lee Westwood.
Westwood is back in the States today, preparing for a try at the Buick Invitational near San Diego. Maybe its time for Duval ' the golfing public, actually ' to heed the words Westwood said when he won last year.
First of all, theres no magic elixir, no magical revelation. Ben Hogan said the only way to figure out the correct swing is to find it in the dirt. Westwood said the same thing, in different terminology.
There is no magic cure, said Lee. You've got to just keep grinding and working hard and working hard on the things that you - the fundamentals and the things that you believe in, really.
Of course, he couldnt have done it nearly so quickly were it not for Leadbetter. And surprisingly, the initial steps that Westwood made didnt involve a club and ball.
First, I went to see him, he really sat me down instead of standing on the range ' try this, try this, try this, said Westwood. He had a clear, identifiable path that made a lot of sense to me and a good route to go down. That was the Eureka moment. I could see where I was coming from and where we were going.
Leadbetter and Westwood were on the same page as far as what was wrong. I told him the things I didn't like in my swing and he agreed, said Lee. He told me things that he thought weren't right and where I might be able to improve, and if I improved those, it might be able to do to shape the ball flight and stuff like that.'
And when he finally was allowed to get out the clubs and walk over to the range, he was overwhelmed by the change that took place.
I saw a massive improvement in my swing in the first couple of days, in February, but the difficult thing is taking that onto the first tee and having the confidence to kind of switch off and just free-wheel it and let what you're working on on the practice tee go into your game on the course.
So it took five or six months to really trust it ' the swing changes he had made. He knew he had the road map back ' but the directions seemed weird.
Just the smallest change feels massive. It's timing, as well. It just throws all that off, said Westwood.
But gradually it began to feel more like a golf swing. In February, about a month after he began to make the changes, he started feeling comfortable again. Slowly, ever so slowly, he began putting everything together. The 10 or so things that he was working on so hard began to mesh into one solid swing. He says he still has more to do before he climbs all the way back, but he is surely getting there.
You do start to doubt, he dutifully confessed. Two and a half years is a long time to play poorly. You're never quite sure what's going to happen. I felt if I did get it back that if I had a chance I might be able to carry it through and just switch onto automatic or whatever you want to call it. I never lost belief that when I got into a position that I would win. But it was starting to look like I wasn't going to get a chance to win.
He had rapidly gone from bad to worse, and the gaffes that had set into his swing had made him into a different player. He hardly recognized the Lee Westwood of old.
When you're playing poorly, you are not as aggressive with your iron shots, he said. So you don't go for as many flags. You are putting more at 40, 50 feet more often. Puts your short game under pressure when you are not playing well and you are missing greens, and when you do miss greens you are not think about getting up-and-down.
Being in an awful slump, though, is not ALL bad. Sometimes, in fact, it might be a good thing.
I learned a lot about myself and the way I think, Westwood said. I learned a lot about the people around me that work with me. It's not been a completely bad thing playing poorly, if you know what I mean. I'd rather have not done it, but that experience will help me in the future.
So, it seems, this experience is bound to help Duval. Going through bad times makes one appreciate the good times. And Westwood hopes all his times in the future are good times.
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