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June 15, 2010

Lee Westwood


BETH MURRISON: Good morning, again, from the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach we're very happy to have Lee Westwood who is coming off a win last week at Memphis in a PGA TOUR event. Lee has finished in the top three in the last three Majors he is playing in his 50th Major and his 11th U.S. Open. In 2000 at Pebble Beach he finished tied for fifth. Lee, can you talk a little bit about being back at Pebble Beach for the U.S. Open.
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, it's probably my favorite golf course in the world, I would say. So I'm obviously delighted to be back. And very excited about the week coming up. I've played here, like you say in the U.S. Open in 2000, played okay and okay for a couple practice rounds before Memphis last week and so I had a good look at the golf course. It was nice to come and play well. There was pretty much nobody else here. So I'm looking forward to going out there today. I don't think it will change too much. I think that I would I look forward to getting going next Thursday.

Q. What does winning last week give you going into the U.S. Open?
LEE WESTWOOD: It gives you a lot of confidence obviously but it's practicing playing under pressure and having to make putts when it counts. And obviously to come out on top last week is a big confidence boost going into a Major Championship.

Q. Talk about firstly playing with Tiger, which you obviously did pretty successfully at The Open last year, and whether that, you change attitude in any way to deal with that; and also the issue of fliers. Because there seem to be some big ones at Memphis last week and whether that's going to be an issue this week.
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, playing with Tiger, I've always enjoyed that, playing with Tiger. You expect him to be there or thereabouts at the end of the week on the leaderboard. So to play with him the first two days you get to keep a closer eye on him and if he plays well sometimes that momentum could pull you through along with him if you are playing well. There's always a great gallery.
Obviously playing with Ernie as well there will be quite a crowd there. As it was last year at the U.S. Open with Ryo as well and Tiger. And it creates a good atmosphere out there. I think it's the kind of group that you want to play in if you're having any aspirations of winning a championship like this.
With regard to fliers, it's a different golf course, really. Different times of grass. That was one of the defenses of the golf course last week in Memphis, it was very dry and the wispy kind of rough. There was a premium on hitting it in the fairways as there is this week. It won't be quite the same reaction if you miss the fairways this week. It will be more hacking it out whereas last week you had to contend with the fliers. But there may be a couple of lies out there where it jumps a little bit because there's not too much rain expected over the next few days.

Q. You mentioned that this is one of your favorite venues. Can you talk about how your preparation may or may not be different coming in here early, playing last week, than it has been for other U.S. Opens.
LEE WESTWOOD: I don't recall going to a venue a U.S. Open venue and practicing before anybody's really got here. So it's just something that I decided to do this year. I did it for the Masters and it was successful there. So I figured I better do it for the U.S. Open as well. I'll probably do it for The Open Championship at St. Andrews, it will be a little bit easier there. But I can't quite see away of doing it for Whistling Straits. But hopefully it will go well.
And it's just nice to come and have a practice round when there's not a lot of the other stuff going on, because you have quite a bit to deal with the week of a Major Championship and then there's obviously big crowds and you like to sign as many autographs as you can. Because you're not doing it over the tournament days. It's difficult to get too much done while you're in the practice rounds out there and it's a lot easier to take in the golf course if you come when there's nobody else about. So that's the main reason why I did it. And I also like to detail almost going into the Thursday of a Major as well. I like to keep a lot of people I see coming have three practice rounds before the tournament kicks off on a Thursday you can wear yourself out. You nearly played a full tournament there. It's a lot of work. And I like to take it easy going into the Thursday, so I'm in peak physical condition, as you can see.

Q. 10 years ago did it feel like there were two separate tournaments going on with Tiger so far ahead?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, a little bit for sure. He was so far ahead so early that it's difficult to see away of catching him and nobody actually did or even get close. So it did feel like two tournaments, really, yeah.

Q. Can you talk about why it's been so difficult for a European or an Englishman to win this tournament. Is it just coincidence or is there more to it than that?
LEE WESTWOOD: I don't think there's more to it than that. I think it's coincidence and we have not played well enough. We have had a lot of good chances recently. Obviously Faldo had a couple of good chances and Monty's had a couple of decent chances. I did, I had a decent chance at Torrey Pines. I'm sure there's more that I've forgotten, but we have not finished it off and if you don't finish it off, you don't deserve to win. So we got a record number of competitors in the field I think this week and 59 or 60 or so and seems like a good percentage to have a decent chance.

Q. Can you talk about the stretch of 8, 9 and 10 and the challenges that those three holes pose and how difficult that stretch is?
LEE WESTWOOD: I think that you look at a golf course and you tend to want to do your scoring in the first seven holes, that's for sure. And then 8, 9 and 10 are obviously probably the most demanding ones on the golf course. Three holes there. And spectacular as well. You're down by the ocean and the beach there and you can obviously birdie those holes, but I think if you get through them in three pars you are pretty pleased with that. It's a demanding stretch. There's a lot of length to those holes. 8s not long on the card but you can only hit 3-iron off the tee or 4-iron. So you're obviously going to be going in there with 5- or 6-iron.
And then 9 and 10 have been lengthened, so they're tough holes, if you hit good drives down in them, you'll be going in with shorter irons and you can use the slopes and get it well down there. But it's a demanding test and I don't want to say the tournament's won and lost on the 8th, 9th and 10th, but you're certainly going to have to play them well.

Q. I know you have had any number of wins over your career but was that victory last week a monkey off your back and can you tell us when and why this place became your favorite course?
LEE WESTWOOD: When I first got here in 2000 it became my favorite golf course. I think. It's an amazing stretch of land. And a dramatic coastline and to have a golf course like this where no holes, no two holes are the same. And you got little holes like 7, I think I read somewhere where a couple of well known course designers said that hole probably they would never have designed that hole because they just wouldn't have seen it 110 yard, room for a 110 yard par-3 in there.
So I think there's a lot of little special things about the place and I don't think it's a golf course you can ever tire of playing. You see something different out there all the time. And it has different challenges, the wind obviously affects the golf course and when you're aside the ocean and it's just such a spectacular place to play. If you have a bad day you can have a look around and it cheers you up a bit, I suppose.
What was your first question?

Q. Last week?
LEE WESTWOOD: Was it a monkey off my back? Well it was a monkey off my back for you. Yeah. Because you kept going on about it. It didn't worry me too much. But it's nice to obviously win over here again. 12 years after the first one. It must be a record.
Maybe this time I'll get to play in Hawaii the following year.

Q. In 1992 at the U.S. Open Gil Morgan got to 10-under and in 2000 Tiger got to 12-under. Can you see the leaders getting that high and sticking that high this year?
LEE WESTWOOD: I don't know. I don't see any reason why not. If the conditions are right. You hit plenty of fairways around here, and if you do that you're going to have birdie chances. There's some obvious opportunities out there. You go in with a few short irons on the early holes. The three par-5s, which is not normally at a U.S. Open, it's normally a couple of par-5s and a par 70, so if somebody plays well enough and hits it in the fairway, hits it close, then somebody could get to double figures again. Obviously they have added a little bit of length to some places, 13 is longer and 9 and 10 I think are longer, so it's been toughened up a little bit from the last time we played, I think. But it's very fair out there. And if you play well you'll score well.

Q. How closely are you paying attention to the World Cup and what's your thought of the 1-1 tie?
LEE WESTWOOD: I didn't get to see the game. I was out on the golf course and I probably was the only golfer last week looking for a rain delay on Saturday so I could watch the match but thankfully I didn't get a rain delay and I didn't have to watch it by all accounts. It was fairly average there. So I've been paying a lot of attention to it and waking up in the morning and flicking it on and watching. I wish I had a draw for the first few games, it seems like it all has been 1-1. I think it's the early stages and teams are still trying to find their feet and not make too many mistakes. It's a bit like being in a playoff really. You don't want to give the first couple of holes away and be too aggressive.

Q. Did you see the goal?
LEE WESTWOOD: Did I? Sorry, can't hear you.

Q. Did you see the U.S. goal?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, I saw the U.S. goal.

Q. What did you see about that?
LEE WESTWOOD: What's your point?
(Laughter.) Mistakes happen. I've made them on the golf course, at spectacular times. You're not trying to do it, it's just one of those things.

Q. Obviously you've been in a lot of good situations going into Sundays at Majors. When you look at all of them is there anything you would sort of change if you were in that situation again or do differently?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, there's a couple of things I would change. I would change the outcome of all of them for starters, but there's only really The Open Championship that I feel like I've let it slip, let slip a chance. With my own doing or let one go.
16th last year at there, I probably got stuck between clubs and hit the wrong club. But 15 I felt like I hit a good shot and 18 I made a mental error. But I felt like at Augusta Phil won it fair and square. And Hazeltine there, I wasn't really there for me to win it, I just had a good last round and got into third spot.
I suppose I made a couple of slight errors at Torrey Pines, which in an ideal world I would try not to do. But all in all I think I've played pretty good the last rounds of the Majors, haven't quite done enough, really.

Q. Padraig talked about the mental challenges that a U.S. Open presents. Can you maybe talk about your approach to a U.S. Open and what makes this different to a regular PGA tournament or the other Majors?
LEE WESTWOOD: I think the setup is a lot tougher. It's a lot more demanding test. So you have to be a little bit more strategic in your play. I think when you -- when a golf course is set up hard it grinds you down and then that's when you got the mentally -- that's what you got to be mentally strong. I think that's probably what he's trying to say.

Q. Do you remember what day you played last week and who did you play with?

Q. From here. And then also did you run into any other players who are in the tournament?
LEE WESTWOOD: No there was only me here. I played 18 holes Sunday morning. Nine holes in the afternoon. And then I played 18 holes Monday morning. And then went to Memphis in the afternoon. Didn't see anybody else. I had a local caddie with me on the Monday morning that's been here for 30 years, just to carry the bag, so I really could do a bit more work on the greens and the grain and stuff like that and slopes and see if he had a few little gems of inspiration or knowledge that maybe he might drop in there and give us a couple of ideas.
But, no, I didn't see anybody else. It was strange. I thought somebody else might be here.

Q. What do you think will be the main difference in how this course will play this year compared to the 2000 Open?
LEE WESTWOOD: It was a long time ago. It's 10 years. I can't really remember how it played so much. I know that the Saturday it was very difficult. I think the wind blew. But the main change over the last few years has been the grading of the rough, I think. And Mike does a great job of setting the golf course up and there's more -- the wider you get the greater the penalty, which is ideal, really. You don't want people hitting it 30 yards off line into the crowd where it could be less penal than being two yards off the fairway. I think it's a lot fairer nowadays, yeah, the U.S. Open.

Q. What is your favorite of the four Majors and why?
LEE WESTWOOD: The Open Championship I think would be my favorite because it's played in Britain and I'm obviously from England so playing a Major Championship in front of your home crowd obviously makes it very special. And it's links golf. I always loved playing links golf.
But after that, the U.S. Open and the Masters are probably set and then the PGA, you know, is the final one. That's not to disrespect the PGA Championship, but I think that's probably the way most players feel about it. But the British Open, I would say, or The Open Championship. Sorry.

Q. Going back on the, you said that the monkey on your back about the gap between wins was something that the media put on you. How do you feel about the Majors?
LEE WESTWOOD: Well I think expectations are -- the most pressure comes from me and the expectations I have for what I want to do in the game of golf. I don't really -- I hate to tell you this but I don't really pay much attention to what you lot write and think. I know that's going to disappoint you.
So the main challenge is fulfilling my own expectations and especially over the last couple of years I've been putting myself in a position to win a Major and feel like I ought to be expected to win a Major now. So the greatest pressure comes from me, not from anybody else.
BETH MURRISON: Lee, thank you so much for joining us today. We wish you well this week.
LEE WESTWOOD: Thank you.

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