Sergio Garcia wrapped up an emotional first major triumph on Sunday, with his play-off victory over Justin Rose in the 81st US Masters. He finally shook off the tag of golf’s greatest underachiever, leaving Lee Westwood in sole ownership of the undesirable ‘best golfer never to have won a major’ monicker.
The 43-year-old Englishman has won pretty much all there is to win in the game, apart from one of golf’s major prizes. 42 professional wins, including 23 European Tour titles have earned him his place amongst the game’s elite, and rightly so.
He leads the career money list in Europe with €33,091,165 ($35.1 million) to his name throughout his career. The Worksop born star is a two-time European Tour Order of Merit winner, and has appeared in more winning Ryder Cup teams than any other player from Europe.
Despite all of these outstanding achievements, it must be such a bitterly disappointing pill to swallow that he still does not have a seat at golf’s top table.
He dabbled in living the American dream when he moved to Florida in 2012, in a bid to improve his short game with the impeccable facilities on offer. That lasted only three years, however, before relocating to England in 2015, in the midst of an ongoing divorce, according to British newspaper The Daily Mail.
With the emergence of a whole host of new stars, however, the experienced Englishman is seemingly further away from breaking his major duck than he has ever been before.
So, with time ticking down, what does Westwood have to do to win one of the big ones?
Contending in majors has never been a problem for him. Six top-10’s in the Masters, including three top-three finishes underline his consistency. Five top-10’s in the U.S. Open, four top-five’s in The Open and two top 10’s in the PGA Championship add further credence to his status as one of the world’s best players over the past two decades.
There always seems to be something that holds Westwood back, when it comes to the nitty-gritty, however. Similarly to Garcia, he has always struggled with his putting. Not so much in the fact that his stroke is technically inept, but in the manner that he dies the ball to the hole, rather than making a stroke with the genuine intent of holing out.
The fear of three-putting seems to far outweigh the possibility of making a birdie, at least that’s the way it has seemed when watching the Englishman throughout the years. Westwood clearly has a mental bock, not only with the putter in hand, but when he has been presented with an opportunity to win one of golf’s most elusive prizes.
He must change his psychological approach to the game, on the greens at least, if he is to ever be considered a true great. Or, like Colin Montgomerie before him, he will end his career with one major regret.