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March 16, 2006

Lee Westwood


JOE CHEMYCZ: We welcome Lee Westwood with a 4 under par 68. 11 of 14 fairways it looks like according to the computer, and 16 of 18 greens. Talk about your day out there and the conditions, first of all.

LEE WESTWOOD: Well, that just about sums it up really. I hit a lot of fairways, I hit a lot of greens and gave myself a lot of chances. The only criticism was I didn't play the par 5s well enough. I left a few shots out there.

But all in all, played solidly. It's always nice to keep bogeys off your card around this golf course.

JOE CHEMYCZ: They have talked this week about the premium of hitting fairways. Talk about that.

LEE WESTWOOD: Well, the rough out there is brutal. It's nice, it puts a premium on driving it in the fairway. There's nothing wrong with driving it long as long as it's straight. Nobody wants to see balls being whacked everywhere and a long way and just trying to overpower courses like that. It's part of the game, accuracy. So it's great that it's been set up like that. Fairways are generous enough, so why not be penal enough if you miss them.

Q. I assume you haven't been Augusta to see any of the recent changes, but can you just talk about what they are doing there, and does it make it less fun when you go to a tournament like that where they just seem to keep making it harder and tougher and more like a U.S. Open difficulty, as opposed to the Masters?

LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, well, I mean, if you compare it to even 1998, '99 and maybe last year and the year before, you walk off the golf course physically a lot more tired. You're just belting the hell out of it now when you get onto holes like 18 and things like that. You know, it's really lost the fact that you used to have to shape the ball around there. Now you just have to crush it as hard as you can, which is unfortunate.

Q. How do you feel then when you go back there? Are you confident going there as maybe you were earlier in your career?

LEE WESTWOOD: If I had to set it up, I would prefer how it played in '98, '99. I don't mind if they get the green ridiculously hard or ridiculously fast.

It's just from what I'm hearing, the 7th, 40 years ago, was a driver and a wedge hole I think. And the guys that have been there now are saying they are hitting driver, 7 iron. 4 has turned into a 3 wood apparently. That was a great hole when it was 5 iron when they have the greens firm. They may not play all these tees. But I think you can get carried away with making golf courses hard nowadays.

Q. Does that make it just even harder for the short hitters to compete there now?

LEE WESTWOOD: Well, there's no doubt it for the shorter hitters. I don't consider myself a short hitter, if you look at the averages, yet, you know, if they make it much longer, it will start to take players like myself out. We're going to be spending more time in the gym than we will on the range.

Q. Why do you think they are doing it?


Q. Yeah.

LEE WESTWOOD: I have no idea. No idea. I mean, you know, Tiger shot an unbelievable score, when was it, '97, he shot a record. That was all credit to him, that's fantastic. Then to try to make it harder, they put 30 yards on every hole, as if to play into the longer hitter's hands a bit more. It's kind of like throwing fuel on the flames.

Q. What are you working on these days? What's new as far as equipment or anything in terms of swing changes?

LEE WESTWOOD: Not really any new equipment. I've not changed anything recently. I might have changed my driver and my 3 wood, just trying out different shafts, try to hit the ball further.

As far as working on technique is concerned, just working on the same old things I've been working on for ate or nine months. I'm still struggling to get them ingrained in my swing and take them on to the golf course.

Granted, it's going to be a gradual progression but I'm seeing positive signs out there. Every tournament I've played this year I've had a round where I've not made a bogey, so that's a massive positive to me.

Q. Are there similarities between what you encounter here, what you'll see next week at the TPC and then Augusta?

LEE WESTWOOD: As in the courses?

Q. Similarities of the courses or type of setup?

LEE WESTWOOD: No. I would say they are three completely different courses. The one great thing about the TPC is anybody can win it. I don't mean anybody, but a short hitter could win it, a long hitter could win it. It's one of those golf courses, a bit like Riviera, that's stood up to the test of time. You know, it's a demanding golf course without sticking hundreds of yards on it.

I really enjoy next week. It tests every aspect of your game. Some of the holes you do have to hit 9 iron, which is part of the game I think. It's always nice to get on courses where occasionally you have to fiddle it around rather than just blast it far as you can.

Q. This being a Ryder Cup year, is there maybe some subconscious lift for you guys that you maybe put more emphasis on a year like this trying to get all of your performances together and make that team? Do you ever feel that way or no?

LEE WESTWOOD: Not personally, no. Not really, no. I've never really set myself out for whatever the Ryder Cup points are. To get on the team, obviously that's one of the goals for the year, but as far as standing on the first tee this morning, I wasn't thinking about I've got to win some Ryder Cup points this week.

Q. I haven't looked at the European standings in a few weeks but when I did last month, there were a lot of name guys, guy who is have done well in Ryder Cups who were not in those Top 5 spots on either of the lists. Do you think that will just shake out as the year goes on and the guys will move up, or is it going to be a tougher year than most?

LEE WESTWOOD: I think it will be a tough year to qualify for the Ryder Cup Team this year. There's a lot more people playing over here and are going to take more spots from the World Ranking points system. Because there are a lot more of us playing over here, we're not going to play in as many qualifying events as far as money is concerned for the Ryder Cup Team.

You've got a guy that plays 40 qualifying events on the money points in Europe, and he may very well qualify. I may only play 15 qualifying events as far as money is concerned. So, you know, it could be a difficult year to qualify. Some guys will miss out I would think. But that's the system they have chosen and you have to stand by it.

JOE CHEMYCZ: Take us through your birdies real quick, you started on the back and birdied 13.

LEE WESTWOOD: 3 wood, sand iron to about six feet, seven feet and rolled it in.

Hit 5 iron to about 18 feet on the next. Rolled that one in.

Driver, wedge to about 18 feet on 3. Rolled that in.

Then I hit 3 wood, 8 iron to two feet, 18 inches on 5.

Q. Has this course gotten better in the last few years? There was a couple of years ago, there were a lot of complaints about the setup and how it was too soft in front and too hard on the greens. Have they ironed out all of those wrinkles there and are these scores indicative?

LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, I think today is just exactly how this golf course should play. This is as good as I've ever seen it set up. They got the setup absolutely perfect for the place it's in. The fairways are generous but if you miss them, you get penalized severely, which is ideal as far as I'm concerned. The greens will hold to a strict shot and won't if you don't hit the right shot. If you start a putt on line, it goes in, so you can't ask for any more than that.

End of FastScripts.

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