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Laid-back Lee Westwood finds himself in contention early at Honda Classic

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PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – So, yeah, Lee Westwood still cares where his ball is going. It’s just that just doesn’t care quite as much anymore.

At 46, he isn’t as intensely invested as he was in his prime.

And that’s proving wonderfully liberating.

Just a month removed from winning the Abu Dhabi Championship for his 25th European Tour title, Westwood is in the early hunt at the Honda Classic.

A 3-under 67 left Westwood one shot behind fellow Englishman Tom Lewis and American Harris English. Notably, all three of them are playing on sponsor exemptions.

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“I think when you're younger, you put a bit more pressure on yourself,” Westwood said. “You kind of forget that you're playing a sport and playing golf, and it's very unpredictable. You treat it too seriously, almost. I'm nearly 47, just out there having fun.”

Yes, Westwood is being asked about his chances of making the European Ryder Cup team for the 11th time, after failing to make the team as a player in 2018, serving instead as a vice captain, but . . . 

“Winning early on in the year has obviously given me a big lift and a big confidence boost, but I've not set any goals as in I want to win the majors, I want to win the money list, I want to qualify for the Ryder Cup team, things like that,” he said. “I figure if I just keep working on my golf swing, keep improving that, hitting more good shots and less bad ones, I'm going to start scoring even lower. And if I do that, then I feel comfortable on the golf course and relaxed, then the wins are going to come and then the benefits from there come.”

Westwood highly recommends this less obsessive and intense approach.

“Everybody should play like that,” he said. “Everybody who's out here is in a privileged position with nothing to lose. We should all be having fun.”