Westwood feeling fit but for how many matches

By Associated PressSeptember 30, 2010, 3:57 pm

Ryder Cup

NEWPORT, Wales – Lee Westwood thinks Europe lost its way two years ago at Valhalla when it surrendered the Ryder Cup for the first time in nearly a decade. They had 12 great players. They just didn’t have much of a team.

For the English star, it was a Ryder Cup to forget.

He was benched for the first time in his career. Then, with a chance to set the Ryder Cup record by going unbeaten in 13 consecutive matches, he lost for the first time in six years. Ultimately, Europe suffered its worst loss in 27 years.

“I think there was a lot of passion at Valhalla,” Westwood said Thursday. “I don’t think it was directed, or guided, in the right direction at times. I think we could have pulled it together as a team a lot better at Valhalla.”

Whether that was veiled criticism of Nick Faldo is subject to speculation. Westwood made it clear, however, that this European team is on the same page in practice, at parties and in the team room.

Next up come the matches, which get under way on Friday morning at Celtic Manor. The pairings for the opening session were to be announced later Thursday afternoon, although Westwood made it clear he would have no qualms leading off.

“Not at all,” Westwood said. “I’m going to go out there and try and hit the first fairway in my match. Try and knock it on the green, try and win that first hole, and try and win a point. And I want to see 11 people following me. I think when push comes to shove, if I get out there – chest out, chin up – try and show them how it’s done.

“I think we’ve got 11 great players that are well capable of following me through there and playing to the best of their ability.”

In some respects, this is a new role for him.

No other European on this team has played in more Ryder Cups. He is all but assured of becoming the No. 2 player in the world, and on the cusp of replacing Tiger Woods at No. 1. The only question is his rust.

Westwood was the runner-up at the Masters and the British Open, playing some of the best golf of his career after winning the Order of Merit on the European Tour a year ago. Then came a nagging calf injury that reached a point where Westwood felt it was best to take six weeks off for rest and rehabilitation.

That meant missing the PGA Championship, the final major. And it meant he wouldn’t play a competitive round until his name was announced on the first tee at Celtic Manor for the most intense golf of the year.

Is he ready?

“I don’t have too many concerns,” he said. “I don’t have concern with the competitive edge. I’ve played well in the practice rounds, and I don’t see how that’s going to change in the competitive rounds. And when the match itself starts, I think I’ll be up for it even more.”

The only question is whether he has the stamina to go all five matches.

Westwood played every session from his debut at Valderrama in 1997 until Faldo sat him out on the Saturday morning at Valhalla. But with so much rain in Wales, and more on the way at Celtic Manor, the course is soggy, hilly and difficult to walk.

European captain Colin Montgomerie has said he would play all 12 of his players on Friday, and it might be best not to play anyone all five times before the Sunday singles to keep them fresh.

“It’s very heavy underfoot, and it’s quite hilly in places,” Westwood said. “Thirty-six holes a day, ideally I would have liked to have broken myself in gently in a tournament with 18 holes a day, but that wasn’t possible. I know as much as you, really, how I’m going to react over the next couple of days. But I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could play five matches.”

For some, there was never a question that Westwood was going to play. Montgomerie said there was no need to have a reserve at Celtic Manor in case an injury became a problem before opening ceremonies, when the rosters were set for the week.

Westwood only had a brief doubt during his time away from the game, spent mostly lying on his couch.

“Only when I started putting weight to it and hitting more balls the last couple of week did I start to allow myself to think about playing this week, and getting emotionally up for it.”

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Four top finishers in Japan qualify for The Open

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:19 am

IBARAKI, Japan – Shota Akiyoshi of Japan shot a 2-under-par 70 on Sunday to win the Mizuno Open and qualify for The 147th Open.

Akiyoshi offset three bogeys with five birdies at the Royal Golf Club in Ibaraki, Japan, to finish 1 under overall and secure his first ever tournament win on the Japan Golf Tour.

Michael Hendry of New Zealand and Japanese golfers Masahiro Kawamura and Masanori Kobayashi were tied for second one stroke off the pace to also qualify for The Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, from July 19-22.

Hendry, who led the tournament coming into the final round, came close to forcing a playoff with Akiyoshi but dropped a shot with a bogey on the final hole when he needed a par to draw level.

Hendry will make his second appearance at The Open after qualifying at the Mizuno Open for the second year in a row.

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."