Westwood calls on Baker-Finch for putting help

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The South Florida life has its advantages, as Lee Westwood has discovered over the past few months.

Apparently, one such perk includes being neighbors with Ian Baker-Finch, the 1991 British Open winner and current CBS Sports analyst.

In his heyday, Baker-Finch was one of the game’s best putters, and Westwood has enlisted the Aussie’s services as he attempts to capture that elusive first major next week at Muirfield. Westwood described their recent session as a “light-bulb moment,” and added that they’ll stay in touch in the run-up to the Open, where he has four top-10s in 18 career starts.

“It was more about feel than technique, gripping it more lightly and loosening everything up,” Westwood told reporters at a charity outing Monday, according to James Corrigan of The Telegraph. “It was good. It’s a mental thing. I need to go out there feeling comfortable, and he’s trying to get across a way of softening everything so I hit putts like a 10-year-old. We all wish we could putt like we did as kids, and I’m going back to the clown’s mouth and windmill.”

Westwood, who turned 40 earlier this year, hasn’t won since the 2012 Nordea Masters. He has top-15 finishes in each of the year’s first two majors but has mostly been let down by a balky putter. 

This year he ranks 151st on Tour in strokes gained-putting, which is actually an improvement over a year ago, when he was 174th. Only twice since 2004 has Westwood cracked the top 100 on Tour in putting.

Since moving stateside the Englishman has made a drastic improvement in the scrambling department, however, getting up and down 63.87 percent of the time (good for ninth on Tour), compared to just 48.30 percent in 2012 (189th). 

“For me, getting my putting sorted out is the final part of the jigsaw,” he said, according to the report. “My chipping and scrambling have improved out of sight since I moved to Florida. And when I start holing a few more putts I’m going to be difficult to beat.”