Royal Lytham & St Annes' not a problem for Lee Westwood
Lee Westood is relishing the chance to break his Major duck on one of the most demanding Open courses in recent times, insisting he has no issues with Royal Lytham & St Annes’ controversial rough.
Much has been made of the lush patches of thick grass at the Lancashire course, described by Tiger Woods as “unplayable” earlier in the week.
However, if Englishman Westwood comes up short again this weekend, you won’t find him using the conditions as an excuse - Westwood claiming that as long as he hits the fairways the rough won’t be a concern.
“This is a tough test, as Lytham always is,” the world No.3 said. “They have changed a par five to a par four, so the scoring is going to be a bit higher. They have lengthened a couple of holes, the 11th is much longer, traps are more in play. The seventh is longer, so it is one of the toughest tests I have played on in an Open Championship.
“I am sure there are some unplayable places in the rough, it is pretty thick and brutal but if you don’t go in it, you won’t have a problem with it.
“There might be times when it might be better to take your punishment and take a drop but that is part of the game of golf, there should be penalties for hitting the ball off line.”
The rough isn’t the only hurdle the players have to overcome, though, with Lytham’s notorious 200-plus bunkers meaning precise approaches into the green are a necessity.
‘Westy’ maintained his positive outlook, believing such a tough test will make victory all the more rewarding.
“I would say, looking at the layout, whoever wins this week will have to have every aspect of their game in top shape,” he said.
Should Westwood go on to lift the Claret Jug on Sunday, he would be the first Englishman to win the Open on home soil since Tony Jacklin triumphed at the same venue back in 1969.
Asked what it would mean to break not only his drought, but his country’s, he said: “It would obviously mean a lot, not just because Tony was the last Englishman to win the Open Championship but because it’s the Championship.
“We have very few tournaments in England now so it’s fun to play in front of a home crowd and feel all that support - but it doesn’t really add to the pressure.”
WHO WILL LIGHT IT UP AT LYTHAM?
Picking an Open winner is a stab in the dark at the best of times but with unplayable roughs, wild weather and a course that’s been likened to “a jungle”, this year’s event could be nigh-on impossible to predict. Ever up for some guesswork, 7DAYS’ ‘experts’ give their tips on who’ll lift the Claret Jug...
MARVIN FRANCE SAYS...
Dustin Johnson - Questions remain about his decision-making but if he gets his mind right he has the game to be a Major player - as he showed with last year’s runner-up finish. A big-hitter with an underrated short-game. He returned from a long injury lay-off with a win last month so won’t lack confidence.
SIMON PLUCKROSE SAYS...
Justin Rose - There is plenty of hype about Lee Westwood and Luke Donald but I fancy it will be Justin Rose who gets his hands on the trophy. This year he’s had a win and four top-10 finishes from 12 starts. His precision and length will be a major asset against the perils of links golf. Should his putter be equally hot, he’ll be hard to stop.
CHRIS FRASER SAYS...
Lee Westwood - Open glory for journeymen Todd Hamilton, Ben Curtis and Stewart Cink prove there’s no substitute for luck on the links. Here’s hoping Lady Luck smiles on Lee Westwood. Deadly accurate from tee to green, the rough shouldn’t worry Westy and it would be great to see him finally nail a Major.