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August 5, 2009

Lee Westwood


LEE WESTWOOD: Thank you.
SCOTT CROCKETT: English and Scottish jokes aside, welcome to the Bridgestone Invitational. Just give us your thoughts on the week. Obviously last year was a near win, good performance. Reflect on that and give us your thoughts looking ahead to this week.
LEE WESTWOOD: I've always enjoyed coming here right from the first time I played here. I've always thought it was a golf course that suited me. I played well here last year, got quite close, played pretty nicely all week, and happy to be back in pretty good form. I'm looking forward to these next couple of weeks.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Your form obviously at Turnberry, you played very well there. Are you continuing on with that? Do you feel the game is in good shape?
LEE WESTWOOD: The last couple of weeks I've had off, I've been wandering around England doing a few kids' academies I set up earlier this year, so they've kept me busy.
And then last week I just mainly worked on my game a little bit, putting and short game stuff with Pete Cowen, and did a little bit of putting. So I come in here fresh, but having put a fair bit of work into the game, as well.

Q. Just going to ask if you were able to move on from the Open quickly, or did the way it all ended, did you dwell on that a little bit more than you might have some other tournament that you didn't win?
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, I mean, simply it's the most important tournament in the world to me, so, you know, having felt like I should have won that event, I was obviously for a couple of days in the situation where I was sort of second-guessing myself and thinking, what if I would have done this and what if I would have done this, and it was a lot of ifs and buts for a couple of days and a sleepless night on the Sunday night afterwards.
But once you get past that stage, I have to use it as a positive. I came very close to winning what for me is the biggest tournament, the most important tournament in the world. I have to take all that into a positive and take the confidence I can draw from that for the rest of the season and firstly these two weeks.

Q. What was the difference between what you take out of The Open and the U.S. Open the previous year, which was also a very good week, Torrey Pines.
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, at the Open I felt like for most of the day it was mine to lose, whereas -- because I was in the lead and I felt in control a lot more than I did at Torrey Pines. You know, that was the most disappointing thing, whereas Torrey Pines I was sort of hanging around for most of the day, and then had a chance at the last obviously to tie. But this one I felt like I had -- I don't want to say I gave it away, but I felt like it was there for me to win it.

Q. This is kind of a moot point at this point, but I'd be curious because I didn't get a chance to see you afterwards on Sunday, on the bunker shot on 18, which was amazing --
LEE WESTWOOD: Thank you.

Q. -- it looked like Billy was off to the side looking to see what kind of trajectory you might have had. I don't think the thing cleared by more than an inch. I wonder if you could just kind of re-go that thought process of what you could hit out of there.
LEE WESTWOOD: I said to Billy first off, pitching wedge, and he said, "You can't get to the green with a pitching wedge." So I said, "It's a 9-iron then. Do you think I can get over that lip with a 9-iron?" He said, "Yeah, probably."

Q. Just what you wanted to hear.
LEE WESTWOOD: I think he said probably, although my head was a bit scrambled at the time. I was dying to hear, "Yeah, of course you can. You can knock it up."
I figured if I sort of hung back a bit and got it up quick, and it was downwind -- the lip was sort of a bit low in in front of me, and directly in line with the flag was the highest part of the lip, but just to the right if I used the wind and hooked it, I could go over a lower part of the lip, and I did that and played nearly a perfect shot really.

Q. Was it perfect?
LEE WESTWOOD: It was the best shot I've hit in a long time, yeah, under a pressure situation, yeah. Because it wasn't a particularly great lie in the trap, either, it had been raked, and sometimes with that powdery links sand you can sort of rake in the ball on the downslope of the rake mark. So that made it a bit trickier, as well.

Q. For those of us that were kind of running around at that moment, I was blocked out on your par putt. Did you go through your typical routine? Was that part of the second-guessing? There were some guys that had suggested that you might have rushed it. I didn't see the replay, and that wasn't part of your post-game rehash, was it?
LEE WESTWOOD: No, I didn't rush it. On the first putt on the 18th green, I had to stand off it because the sunlight was reflecting off my badge, the player's badge, just onto the ball. So I had to sort of readjust my hat a little bit to get that out of the way. And then just as I did that I had them cheering behind where Tom had hit the fairway, and I thought, well, he's in the middle of the fairway, he's going to make 4, most probably he's going to only need an 8 or 9-iron, and chances are I need this one to tie it. So it was sort of in my head that I need to hole it.
And then the second one, no, I tried to speed up my routine on my putting consciously two or three weeks before because I felt like I was spending too much time over the ball and getting too many thoughts in my head. So I hadn't been having a practice stroke or anything like that, just lining up the putt, putting down the ball and then making the stroke. So I went through the same routine with that one.

Q. Were you kind of deflated at that point, felt like the air had been let out of your balloon after the birdie putt doesn't go in?
LEE WESTWOOD: No, not really, no. I looked at the leaderboard and saw I still needed -- my thoughts were if I make this, I finish second, so that would be my best ever result in a major, so my thoughts were still on what I was doing. The deflation came afterwards when I was signing the card and I heard a groan. I said, I didn't really want to hear a groan, I wanted to hear a big cheer, knocked it to three feet and beat me by three.

Q. Even going back to last year, is there a certain part of your game that you feel like is really clicking, even if it goes back months?
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, I think my short game and certainly my bunker play is a lot better this year than it was last year. I think if I go back to this tournament last year where I really feel like I lost it on the 8th in the last round where I hit it in the trap and then left it, and it wasn't that hard of a bunker shot, really. I suppose eight times out of ten I would now expect to get that up-and-down, and I made 5. So that put me behind the 8-ball a bit, to use a term over here.
But then I came back with a few birdies on the next few holes. I think I birdied the next hole, so that was on the 7th.
The 8th it ran down the hill and I made birdie there, so I got back into it a little bit there and then birdied a couple more. Then I missed a chance at 17 and 18. But I think short game is much better.

Q. Lee, you've got Dubai connections. There's a report out there that the money is being cut 25 percent. You've probably heard a little bit about that by now. I was wondering what your thoughts were on that, if you were surprised by it, disappointed by it, all of the above?
LEE WESTWOOD: Not disappointed, not surprised. I think it's a reality check for everybody that in times like this when there's a credit crunch, people are struggling financially, that nobody is immune. I heard before it all came out in the press that it was going from $10 million down to $71/2 million. That's still a massive prize when you think about it. I think we're lucky to be playing for that kind of money. I can fully understand, and I'm pretty supportive, in a way, that they're still hanging in there because you look at a lot of sponsors, you look at how unfortunate Buick has been over here and people like that, we're just lucky to be playing in big tournaments for that kind of money, full stop, never mind whether it's $10 million or $71/2.

Q. Could you see the purses going down in the future? Do you think maybe we've crested on that front for a while kind of on the global front everywhere?
LEE WESTWOOD: I'm a golfer, I'm not really sort of qualified to talk about that sort of thing. But --

Q. Would it surprise you?
LEE WESTWOOD: It wouldn't surprise me. And I can understand it if people do that. You know, I know we're all going through it. Why should the bigger companies and anybody in the world be any different, really.

Q. You said earlier that this course suits you well. What do you like about it? Why does it suit your game well?
LEE WESTWOOD: It rewards you if you hit fairways. You know, you've got a big advantage. Maybe not quite so much this week because the rough is not as long and the greens are a little bit softer. You'll be able to stop it out of the rough a little bit easier. But normally the rough is a little bit longer than this and the greens are normally firm, so you need some control coming off the fairways.

Q. All the majors are so distinctive, and then we get to the last one. How would you describe that one?

Q. Yeah.
LEE WESTWOOD: I've always felt that the PGA is more like a regular TOUR event over here than the others. The U.S. Open they set up a lot differently with the rough and the tightness of the fairways; obviously Augusta is completely different to anywhere else we play, with the rough and the speed of the greens; the Open Championship is obviously links golf, which we don't have over here. But the PGA, it's like a TOUR event over here, but more demanding of a golf course. It would equate to somewhere like, I suppose, Sawgrass or something like that, that kind of demanding test.

Q. Do you ever think that as time goes on maybe that Stewart Cink will gain appreciation for what he accomplished, or do you think it'll always be more what didn't happen? I mean, the players recognize that he did play a pretty good final round, did he birdie 18?

Q. He did his job.
LEE WESTWOOD: He took the trophy home at the end of the day, which is what you're supposed to do. I think unfortunately Tom Watson is so loved by everybody in the game, he's obviously 59 years old and it would have been a fairytale story if he would have won, and people are going to look back on it as the Open Championship that Watson lost, I guess, rather than the one that Stewart Cink won. But that's just people's opinions. I'm sure if you ask Stewart he's not too bothered. I'm sure he's filled the jug up once or twice and will do so a few more times in the future.

Q. For the years you've been playing this event, did you have any preference on playing it after or before the PGA?
LEE WESTWOOD: I think it's a great one. I prefer it now before the PGA. I think it's a great run up to the -- it's a big tournament. I don't want to take anything away from this event, but it's a great run up, certainly for us getting over the jet lag going into a major championship, it's perfect preparation as far as I'm concerned. Obviously with there being no cut, you're pretty guaranteed a fourth round, so you're not going to have a weekend spare in between if you don't play particularly well where you can be sort of twiddling your thumbs if you're an overseas player, can't go home. It has everything going for it.

Q. Whereas before it was I don't want to say a let down, but kind of a free week, except for the Ryder Cup --
LEE WESTWOOD: For years how I played at the Open and the disappointment I felt afterwards, I wouldn't have wanted to be experiencing that week and then having to play the World Golf Championship the week after.

Q. How important would it be to you to win one of these things having come so close in all the other things? How much would that compensate, winning a WGC event?
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, I mean, winning a World Golf Championship would mean an awful lot. I've never won one. I've finished second a couple of times, and when you look at it, they're just a slight tier down from the majors. That's how I think the players perceive them. You want to win one of the four majors first, and then the World Golf Championships would be just a slight step down from that. They're massive tournaments and you have the best fields mostly. You're pretty much guaranteed the top 50 in the world are here. And they're generally played around great golf courses. They obviously mean a lot. You don't see many people skipping them anyway.

Q. You mentioned that you did some stuff with kids over the last couple of weeks. Kids are notoriously resilient and also pretty blunt. I wonder if they helped you get over what you went through the last day at all or reminded you of it or how all that went, how they broached that subject.
LEE WESTWOOD: Fairly unsubtly. (Laughter). It was good to do it. The local newspaper from where I'm from run a Junior Golf Competition on the Monday after the Open Championship, so I was up to work at the golf club where I'm a member to present the prizes there at 5:00 o'clock on Monday and got a good reception there. Obviously it was a mix between everybody was disappointed for me that I didn't win, but still thought it was a great result.
And then the following three days I was hopping in a helicopter around England doing golf academy things, which I started at the start of the year. So the fact that I played well in the Open sort of gave them a higher profile, as well, and I think made them go along even better. But nothing but good responses from all the people that went to them.
But it was interesting, some of the questions that came out. Most people wanted to know what was going through your head when you're in that situation. A couple wanted to know if it was a fake tan or a real tan that I had.

Q. Those are serious questions.
LEE WESTWOOD: From an eight year old, very serious, yeah. So it was kids between the ages of 7 and 16. It was varying types of questions.

Q. What's the best example of the unsubtle?
LEE WESTWOOD: Why did you hit the first one so hard? So that will bring you down to earth with a pretty big bump. My son was one of the best walking off the 18th green. I was pretty deflated afterwards. He said, "Dad, you did really well. You finished third." So there you go.

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