Westwoods Big Day Comes in New Orleans

By George WhiteApril 29, 2002, 4:00 pm
Lee Westwood was 13 years old and noticeably bored. School was out for the day in Worksop, England. His father noticed sons discomfort and offered a suggestion: would he like to go fishing, or maybe try his hand at fathers sport ' golf?
 
Lee said he would try golf. He liked it immediately, and before long he had a handicap. The handicap was 54, but it was still golf ' sort of.
 
My, what a ride! Three years later, Lee was playing to scratch at Worksop. In three more years, at 19, he turned professional. In his third season as a pro, he finished sixth on the European Tour money list. And five years after he turned pro ' at the age of 24 ' he won in the United States.
 
Westwood came to New Orleans that week in April to get ready for the Masters, which was the following week. He had just played in the 1998 Players Championship and finished in impressive fashion, shooting 68-69 on the weekend to tie for fifth. The Masters would be a letdown for Westwood, whose 300 score was 44th of the 46 players who made the cut. But for that one shining week in New Orleans at the Freeport-McDermott Classic, Brit Westwood was as perfect as perfect can be.
 
Westwood wasnt particularly impressive the first round. He played well with a 69, but that was five shots off the pace set by Glen Day, sizzling with an 8-under 64.
 
Westwood moved up the second day with a 68, though still three behind new leader Steve Flesch. But the third day, another round in the 60s ' this time 67 ' shot him to the top of the scoreboard. He owned a one-stroke lead over Flesch and two over Duffy Waldorf as the final day began Sunday.
 
He began to squeeze the life out of the field halfway through the round. A birdie at 10, then one at No. 11, gave him a little breathing room. The one on 11 was really impressive, a 40-foot putt that told the rest of the field, You better really play well if you want to keep this trophy from going back with me to England!
 
Westwood wasnt quite that boisterous, of course. But he was quietly confident.
 
You have to hole the putts when they count, he said. Fortunately for me, I got the killer blow in at the right time. Its a case of driving the nail in when you have to.Westwoods lead was up to five by the time he got to the 14th. There, he suffered a blow that might have knocked the props out from under a lesser player. Preparing to stroke a 30-foot putt from light rough, the ball jumped up slightly and caught his blade on top. One-stroke penalty for the double-hit and to make matters worse, the ball finished 10 feet from the hole on that roller.
 
Westwood took a deep breath and surveyed the situation. Then, facing a double bogey, he drilled the 10-footer into the back of the cup. Never even flinched, said Flesch, and Westwood got out of the hole with just a bogey.
 
Westwood had one more nerve-shaking encounter. The very next hole, the 15th, is a par-5 with the green surrounded by water. The hole had already extracted a 13 from Fulton Allem and an 11 from Scott Verplank earlier in the tournament.
 
But Westwood defied conventional wisdom, disdaining the 2-iron and striping a driver down the left side of the fairway. He only had 185 left to the pin, and naturally he went for it, getting there with a 5-iron. It was easily on the green, and two putts later he had another birdie. It was time to polish up the trophy for the plane ride to England.
 
Just another easy win for a very cool customer? Well, not exactly. Westwood described the day, giving the press one of the best quotes of 1998:
 
It was harder than it looked, he said. I was like a swan ' sort of gliding on the top, but my legs were paddling underneath.
 
Westwood would reach the mountain-top two years later when he won the European Tour Order of Merit for being the tours top money-winner. However, his marriage to the sister of tour pro Andrew Coltart, Laurae, produced a boy last year. Westwood missed the Masters as his wife was in labor. He played only sparingly thereafter, settling for a finish of 58th on the money list.
 
He momentarily rebounded last year with a third-place in the Volvo Scandinavian Masters in August. I proved I hadnt lost the habit of being in contention you dont win tournaments by playing well and thinking poorly.
 
He injured his wrist at the end of August in WGC-NEC Invitational and that hampered him somewhat. He currently stands No. 61 on the money list this year as the European Tour gets into the heart of its schedule. He has plenty of time to make some giant steps, although he needs to get to work. His son just had his first birthday and Westwood is ready to go back fulltime.
 
Never, though, will he forget that wonderful week in New Orleans when it all went just as planned.
Getty Images

McIlroy 'committed to everything ... ran out of holes'

By Jay CoffinJuly 22, 2018, 7:08 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy summed it up: “I don’t really feel like it’s a defeat. I feel like it’s a good week.”

McIlroy, in search of his fifth major, tied for the lead at The Open late on Sunday at Carnoustie when he made eagle on the par-5 14th hole. An hour later, he had made five consecutive pars to close out a 1-under 70 and tie for second place with Justin Rose, Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele.

That group ended two shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. McIlroy thought it was realistic to squeeze one more shot out of his round, but he never though it was possible to squeeze out two.

“I committed to everything,” he said. “I hit the shots when I needed to. I made good swings on 17 and on 18. I just ran out of holes.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


McIlroy hasn’t played poorly this year, but this hasn't been a year that would rank as a total success. He took the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March and collected a second-place finish at the BMW PGA Championship. He had a legitimate chance to win the Masters before a terrible Sunday round, and then missed the cut at the U.S. Open last month at Shinnecock Hills.

Sunday at Carnoustie, McIlroy bogeyed two of his first five holes and quickly became an afterthought. When others faltered, McIlroy birdies Nos. 9 and 11, then eagled 14 to vault back into the picture.

“I’m happy with how I played,” he said. “I didn’t get off to a great start, but I hung in there, and I battled back.

“So I’ll look back at this week and be very encouraged about what I’ve done and the golf that I played. I feel like that will stand me in good stead for what’s coming up.”

McIlroy is scheduled to play the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in two weeks, followed by the PGA Championship and the FedExCup Playoffs.

Getty Images

Edoardo, other pros congratulate Francesco on Twitter

By Grill Room TeamJuly 22, 2018, 6:54 pm

Francesco Molinari played a bogey-free weekend at Carnoustie to claim Italy's first claret jug.

His rock-solid performance in the final round earned him his share of social media plaudits.

Here's a collection of Twitter hat-tips, and we start off with Frankie's brother, Dodo.

Getty Images

Woods: Fan who yelled had 'tipped back a few'

By Jay CoffinJuly 22, 2018, 6:37 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods stood on the 18th tee and thought he needed birdie to have a chance to win The Open. He pulled driver out of his bag, a sign he wanted to boot the ball as far down the fairway as possible.

Woods took a mighty swat and - right in the middle of his downswing - someone yelled. Woods flinched.

Luckily his ball still found a decent spot just off the right of the fairway.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I’ve had things like that happen a lot in my career with people who just tried to time it,” Woods said Sunday at Carnoustie after shooting 71 to tie for sixth place. “They tipped back a few, and it’s late in the day.

“Unfortunately, that’s part of what we have to deal with in today’s game. People are trying to yell out things to try to be on TV or be in social media or whatever it may be. That was too close to the game of play.”

Woods hit his approach to 6 feet and missed the birdie putt. He tapped in for par to shoot even par and finish 5 under for the week, in a tie for sixth.

Getty Images

Pros melt down on Twitter as they watch Tiger

By Grill Room TeamJuly 22, 2018, 6:30 pm

Tiger Woods mounted a final-round charge and, for a little while, took the outright lead at Carnoustie on Sunday.

His fellow pros were watching and tweeting like your average fans.

We compiled some of their missives below:

Woods would go on to finish in a tie for sixth at 5 under par for the week.