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June 15, 1999

Lee Westwood


LES UNGER: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for getting up so early this morning. It's a nice attendance for this hour of the day, and I guess we can attribute that to you, Lee. It's the first time we've had the opportunity to have you sitting here. And if you come back later on in the week, it's only because it's been good. Tell us a little bit about your game, how it's been going, and whether you are familiar with courses such as this one.

LEE WESTWOOD: Well, my game is not as good as it has been, but it's been improving recently,. I think the injury has contributed to the way I've played. And it was just a matter of time before my shoulder improved and got back to the way it was. As for the course, the greens are excellent. It's a good test. There's a lot of long holes out there. It's a shot-maker's course. It demands a lot of different shaped drives and second shots to the greens. I'm disappointed with the amount of rough. I think it's a bit too short, a little bit too easy, once you've knocked it up, to get it up on the green. That's about it.

LES UNGER: Does this course compare to any in Great Britain?

LEE WESTWOOD: No, not really.

LES UNGER: We'll open it up for questions.

Q. Lee, how many different types of ways did you go at the flags from around the green yesterday? What different types of shots? Do you use the putter, or do you have a personal preference, or pull out five or six different ones?

LEE WESTWOOD: I think it depends on the shot, but I'm using a 3-wood or 5-wood, to run it up the banks. And I don't think the lob shot is out the window this week, because there's such tight lies around the greens. And all the grass is growing against you, and you're chipping into the greens. I don't think the bump-and-run shot -- because that digs in as well. You want it to be on the floor as much as possible.

Q. How much have you practiced chipping with the 3-wood, 5-wood? Is that something new to you?

LEE WESTWOOD: I haven't practiced it that much, but a lot more just recently. Hopefully after a couple more days, should have it down quite well.

Q. In view of this course, then, being relatively easy --

LEE WESTWOOD: I never said it was relatively easy --

Q. Does this represent your best chance to win a major, because it's not as tough as you thought?

LEE WESTWOOD: I used to think so, when there was five inches of rough off the edges of the fairways.

LES UNGER: What's the other side of that? You used to think it would be a good chance if there's five inches of rough.

LEE WESTWOOD: Yes, because it puts a premium on accuracy off the tee. But now, I don't think it does. Especially if the rain that's due comes down the next few days, it will make the greens very soft, and you don't need to be in the fairway off the tee.

LES UNGER: Are you rooting for rain?

LEE WESTWOOD: No. I'll be rooting for it to be as dry as possible, to make the greens as dry as possible, because I think it will be a sterner test with harder greens.

Q. Lee, your view that the rough is too short, is that shared by others you've spoken to?

LEE WESTWOOD: It seems to be the opinion of most players. You'll have to ask them. I can only speak for myself, but I was in the rough a couple of times yesterday and I had no problem getting 6-iron, 5-irons on a couple of lies. On the 8th, down the left, there was very little rough; down the left there.

Q. Lee, backing up to that 3-wood and 5-wood you were talking about, in theory, when you're hitting that shot, what's it supposed to do? How is it supposed to behave: Get it in the air; give it topspin?

LEE WESTWOOD: It just runs a bit quicker, as opposed to getting it in the air at all. The first -- it's not really getting it in the air; it's just easier when it's tight to just use a 3 or the putter with extra loft to help you out.

Q. Lee, can you go over your injury, which shoulder was it, and how did you work through it and what percent are you at?

LEE WESTWOOD: It's fine now. But it was my right shoulder, and it was just a matter of time. There was no treatment for it.

Q. Lee, after last week, have you had more confidence recently?

LEE WESTWOOD: I don't think I was lacking in confidence. You just have to wait for the shoulder to heal. And that's why I put my poor form down over the last 7 weeks to that. When I've been fit, the rest of the year I've won: 6th in The Masters, 6th in the TPC, and there's no point in me not being confident.

Q. Could you give me your two toughest holes and why, and how you'll play them?

LEE WESTWOOD: 15, par-3, because the green's very small. And I suppose it depends on which way the wind is blowing. 8 is quite a difficult hole. There's a few difficult holes out there. I'm not saying it's an easy course, by any means. I think it's very tough. I still can't see a really low score on it.

Q. When was the last time you used a 3-wood or a 5-wood for chipping?

LEE WESTWOOD: At the Masters. The greens there are very similar to Augusta.

Q. Every time you've done that?

LEE WESTWOOD: I've used that chip shot when there's not a lot of rough around the greens, and you've got big slopes or steep slopes to go up, and it's straight down and left; it's the best shot to employ.

Q. When you're coming into a place you've never played before, and you're trying to get the lay of the land, do you buy a yardage book, or do you personally go out with the range finder and laser thing and check? The yardages, how much do you do? How much does your caddy do? Are you stepping it off? How do you do it so when you tee off, you know what's around the corner?

LEE WESTWOOD: My caddy does all of that. I go out and get a general impression of the course. And really, most courses are the same, and this one you just need to practice those shots up and around the greens. Really it's not even a case of getting a feel for the speed of the greens yet, because on Monday, they always seem to be a yard, a yard and a half slower than they are on Thursday when they're cut right down and they've firmed up a little bit.

LES UNGER: I want to describe our routine for the week; so it affects all of us here. For the first 30 minutes, we'll have the players here, and for the next 30 minutes, they're going to do some TV work, if it's requested outside. So the usual hustle to the dais when the formal questioning is over is not going to be possible; so I encourage you to ask your questions now.

Q. Do you think that because the way the area is around the green -- there's talk that it's similar to European courses; that that gives European players more of an advantage than they normally would have coming into an Open?

LEE WESTWOOD: No. Like I said ten minutes ago, we have nothing like this in Europe. I don't know why somebody has the impression it's going to suit the European player. That's just a proviso in case one of us wins. But very rarely do we have to play shots that you have to play around here. I'm not saying we can't, but it's a shot we don't have to play.

Q. You mentioned Augusta. Do you think you're prepared for a course like this?

LEE WESTWOOD: I think it's similar to The Masters course, yeah. The real focus on this course is on and around the greens. You can hit a good shot to ten feet, and if you had missed it five feet further right or left, you can finish 20 or 30 yards away from the flag. There's a lot of patience required, as there is at the Masters. And it's the same shot once your ball goes away, as well. There will be a lot of putting from off the greens. You need a lot of imagination on and around the greens, I think.

Q. Lee, are you saying that the way the course is set up gives the opportunity for more people to win, or that it's less suited to your game, and perhaps you have less of a chance or a bit of both?

LEE WESTWOOD: I think your first statement was right. I think it gives more people an opportunity to win. You don't have to be quite as straight. The tee shots aren't as demanding, and it brings into play the short game more, this course, I think.

LES UNGER: Are you rooting for this course to get softer, or would you prefer it to be played as intended?

LEE WESTWOOD: I'd like it like concrete.

Q. Can you just run through, Lee, how many times now you've been paired with Tiger in the last year or so?

LEE WESTWOOD: No, I can't count; I don't have enough fingers. I've played him a lot; seemed to have played him a lot, recently. Just recently, I played with him. I played with him the last round of the Masters. I played with him in the Million Dollar. I played him in the World Matchplay; three rounds in this last year. I played with him quite a lot lately. He's probably getting sick of me.

Q. How much is a source of pride for the European players to come here and play well and maybe even win? Do you guys get together and talk about how important it would be to win a U.S. Open, because it has been such a long time between a European player winning?

LEE WESTWOOD: No. We don't get together and discuss whether one of us should win. Golf is an individual game, and I think you do what you want. There's no sort of team talks, apart from the Ryder Cup. But it would be nice to see a European win it.

Q. Is it a problem for people playing with Tiger, particularly in America, perhaps, in the sense that the crowd is scurrying away to the next vantage point or next tee, when you maybe have a 3-footer? Have you experienced that in the past?

LEE WESTWOOD: Occasionally it does happen, but it's just one of those things you have to put up with. Nobody can do anything about it. It tends to happen less when there's a big crowd, like here, because people tend to hold their position. And it's -- there's normally about, if one or two people are around the green, when one or two people rush around the back of the green, you tend to not see it much. I've never really had much of a problem. My caddy says, "Quiet, please," if anything does bother me. But you should have the concentration to get through that sort of thing.

Q. Lee, about Tiger mania, when you're over here, is there Westwood mania? Is there a different reaction from the crowds over here compared to what you get in Europe?

LEE WESTWOOD: No. The crowds are fine always towards me. I've never had a problem with anybody. They've always been very good and supportive. When I won in New Orleans, the crowds were fantastic. I think they like winners over here, which is the way it should be, I think. They're always trying to build people up, and never trying to knock them down.

Q. Lee, why is it that you think a European hasn't won since 1970? Just course familiarity?

LEE WESTWOOD: I don't know. There's certainly more Americans in the field, for starters. But I think a couple of people have been unlucky just recently. I think Faldo was unlucky. Monte has been unlucky. That's it, really.

Q. What's your previous experience here at Pinehurst, or had you ever played here before?

LEE WESTWOOD: No. This is the first time.

Q. What had you heard about the course, then, from other people?

LEE WESTWOOD: I knew it was going to suit the Europeans, which was fairly off the mark. I think it suits them, but the best player will still win on the week, let me put it that way. You have to be very accurate with your iron shots; not quite as accurate as I'd like with a driver. You have to have a good imagination around the greens, and a good feel.

Q. Lee, since Tiger won The Masters, there's -- can you recall in this run together, what has your success ratio has been?

LEE WESTWOOD: No, can you tell me?

Q. I'm going to have to work it out when if you can't tell me.

LEE WESTWOOD: No. I know I beat him in The Masters, because I played with him in the last round, but that's about as far back as I remember, in the Majors, anyway.

LES UNGER: Thank you very much for being here, and lots of good luck this week.

End of FastScripts….

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