PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland – Lee Westwood wasn’t wishing Brooks Koepka any ill will, but he certainly wasn’t sad when Koepka bogeyed the par-4 17th on Sunday at the 148th Open Championship.
That bogey dropped Koepka into a tie for fourth place, with Westwood. Fourth place, fifth place, what’s the difference if you don’t win, right?
The difference is a trip to Augusta National. With the top four finishers at Royal Portrush earning an invitation to the Masters Tournament, Koepka’s bogey was just what Westwood needed to get a return trip to the season’s first major.
“Augusta is a very special place. And I played great in the past, I had a chance to win it. Augusta is another one I don't strictly think it's a bomber's paradise, although I think it helps. If you've played it a lot and you play it well, there's a lot of repeat winners,” Westwood said.
“I feel like I can get it around there. I've had a couple of close calls, second a couple of times and third a couple of times.”
Westwood made those statements while Koepka was still on the course. Westwood had just finished off a 2-over 73, in which he climbed to 10 under par through 10 holes, but settled at 6 under, nine shots back of eventual winner Shane Lowry.
Koepka stood at 7 under through 15 holes on Sunday, but dropped a shot at the 16th. He then parred in to finish knotted with Westwood.
At 46 years old, Westwood is still seeking his first major title. And as he mentioned, Augusta – despite the importance of putting – has given him his best opportunities over the years. Westwood has six career top-10 finishes at the Masters, more than at any other major. That includes two runner-up showings (2010, ’16).
Westwood didn’t qualify for the tournament the last two years. By finishing inside the top 10, he will also get a return trip to The Open next year at Royal St. George’s.