The Return of Westwood


Out since early August with a ruptured right calf muscle, Lee Westwood is taking drastic measures to ensure that he will not be a drag on Europe’s bid to win back the Ryder Cup early next month in Wales.

“I haven’t had a drink in four weeks,” he said from his home in England. “I’ve lost 12 pounds since the British Open.”

Living the Spartan lifestyle of a boxer in training for a title fight, Westwood sounded refreshed.
Lee Westwood
Lee Westwood has been the most consistent performer in majors over the last few years. (Getty Images)
“I haven’t had any pain for three weeks,” he said. “I’ve made great progress.”

Westwood’s been rehabbing the injury while working out in the gym.  With a full practice facility on his own property, he started playing golf a week and a half ago with putting, chipping, pitching and bunker play.

He hit full shots at the beginning of last week, drivers this past Monday and then worked through his entire bag each of the last two days.  

And he’s done some of it with coach Pete Cowen. “He said I’m swinging better than I was before,” said Westwood.

Wednesday, Westwood will play a full 18 for the first time since he limped away, teeing it up in Yorkshire at his home club, Lindrick, host of the 1957 Ryder Cup.

Next Monday and Tuesday, he’ll participate in a two-day charity event in Scotland, then play 36 holes in one day towards the end of the week.

“I just want to replicate the Ryder Cup with two matches in one day,” said Westwood. “I’m pretty strong at the moment. I’d be fine playing in all five matches.”

Westwood’s fine, too, with Colin Montgomerie’s captain’s choices. “I have sympathy for Paul,” he said of Paul Casey. “I’d be gutted as well.”

“But if you had a 7-footer on the last green, you’d have your money on Padraig [Harrington] because he’s done it so often.”

Westwood’s played on four winning Ryder Cup teams, winning 14, losing 10 and halving five of his 29 matches.

“I think it’s a strong European side,” he said of the 2010 team. “It’s strong on paper. But golf’s played on grass. We’ll find out in two weeks.”

It’s a team without Sergio Garcia for the first time since 1997, at least Sergio as a player. Garcia will be there as a vice captain.

“I think it’s a great move,” Westwood said. “Sergio brings a lot of passion and experience. And it’s nice to have an assistant with each match. That’s one of the few mistakes that Nick [Faldo]made at Valhalla, not having enough assistants to relay messages.”

Having emerged from a dark period of his own, Westwood is uniquely qualified to speak on Sergio’s temporary and self-imposed exile from competition.

“If you keep going around in circles it’s a bit destructive,” he explained. “You either grind through or take a break.’

“He’s 30 years old and has a lot of years left. A two- or three-month break is not the end of the world. It will probably do him some good.”

Westwood’s also qualified to expound on the voluminous subject of captain Montgomerie.  

“I spent my whole career playing with Monty,” said Westwood. “When he was winning all the Order of Merit titles I was finishing second and third and fourth. Then I won the money title in 2000 and finished his run.’

“I can have a laugh and a joke with him and I think he opens up to me more than other guys. He has a decent sense of humor and I think he’ll get along well with everyone.’

Asked how Monty will handle the notorious British tabloids fishing around in Monty’s messy private affairs, Westwood dismissed any potential problem.

“Monty’s had years of that,” he said. “He’s a pro at that.”

As for possible pairings, Westwood’s always been flexible.  

“I’ve been listening to people,” he said. “I heard Rory [McIlroy] and Martin [Kaymer] say they’d like to play with me.”

“I’m a big believer in not sending two rookies out together. So partnering with those guys would be two of the more obvious ones to me.”

Westwood didn’t watch the PGA Championship, but did see enough in the highlights to know that he’d be in good company alongside Kaymer.

“Martin holed a great clutch putt on 18 in regulation,” said Westwood. “And he rolled in the birdie on 17 in the playoff like it was a Tuesday morning practice round.”

Westwood offered one more cogent thought, on the subject of the October weather in Wales.

“Humidity won’t be a problem,” he cracked.

Nor it appears will Westwood’s health, that of mind and body.