Westwood needs to iron out putting woes
John McAuley assesses where it went wrong for Westy at this year's Masters...
If only Lee Westwood could putt like Bubba Watson. Or Louis Oosthuizen. Or Phil Mickelson.
Or most of the others names on the leaderboard at Augusta. The Englishman again put himself into contention in a Major, but left without the big prize once more: his sixth top-three finish in his past 10 attempts. The US Open at Olympic Club in June will be Westwood’s 57th shot at landing one of golf’s crown jewels, although he’ll arrive in San Francisco with doubts remaining over his proficiency with the short-stick.
It seems a little harsh to pick apart the game of someone who, from tee to green, was unrivalled last week. But that’s the problem. Westwood hit 16 in regulation on Thursday, then 14 every other day. It should have equated to a first Green Jacket.
However, having led after the first round, Friday’s 73 wasn’t a number to suggest he could break his Major duck; the most telling statistic was 34. That’s 34 putts through 18 holes, swelling to 98 in total by Saturday night whereas Phil Mickelson, four shots better off, had used his putter 21 fewer times.
‘Westy’ might not get a better chance than this. His ball-striking was by far the best in the 96-man field, but his eight-under-par total was a sad return.
He three-putted from 10 feet for double bogey at the end of his second round and missed from little more than a foot on the ninth green on Saturday.
Those blots on the scorecard punctuated a series of other holes throughout the tournament when the world No.3 couldn’t capitalise on superb approach play; the promised birdie blitz never materialised.
The writing was on the wall when he missed a two-footer on the third to begin his final round, then a chance for eagle on 15 - his last throw of the dice - was missed from inside 10 feet.
Thirty-nine in two weeks, Westwood’s chances to fulfil an otherwise fantastic career are running out. “It’s the weakness of my game and it’s costing me tournaments,” he admitted.
Jack Nicklaus, who knows a thing or two about collecting Majors, said on Thursday the hardest to win is your first. Augusta proved again that Westwood needs to sort out his putting or he’ll never be able to test that theory himself.