Westwood hopes hot putter returns at at PGA


PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Last week was decidedly more Lee Westwood-like, save for the 40th-place finish.

He hit plenty of fairways and greens at Firestone, ranking T-8 in fairways hit and T-7 in greens in regulation.

But his putting? Well, in the 73-man WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Westwood was T-72 in putts made. All week he made just six putts longer than 10 feet. He missed two tiddlers inside 3 feet. He required 127 putts over four days.

This is noteworthy, of course, because two weeks earlier Westwood putted as well as he ever had.

Proving to be a quick learner under new putting coach Ian Baker-Finch, Westwood held a two-shot lead heading into the final round of the British Open and eventually tied for third, a performance that was fueled largely by a red-hot putter, not his typically stellar ball-striking. At Muirfield he took only 110 putts – best in the field – but was T-67 in fairways hit and T-69 in greens in regulation. His major-less drought is now 62 and counting.

So, why the disparity?

As he explained Tuesday at Oak Hill, “Well, I had a week off in between where I didn’t really work too much on my game in general, so it’s probably that. I struggled to get the pace of the greens last week, as well.”

Westwood has initiated several changes this year. He moved his family to Florida. He turned 40. He began seeing a sports psychologist, and he hired Baker-Finch, and he recently started working with swing coach Sean Foley.

The Englishman said he hasn’t yet worked with Baker-Finch at Oak Hill, but on Monday night he saw the CBS Sports analyst in the “lift” – the elevator – and received a few pointers. With his ball-striking back in order, all that’s left, it seems, is regaining confidence in the flat stick.

“I’ve been making a lot of changes and working on a lot of different things, so there’s no surprise really that there was a significant difference between the Open and last week,” Westwood said. “Until changes take effect, then you’re going to be a little bit inconsistent.”