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July 6, 2011

Lee Westwood


MICHAEL GIBBONS: Welcome to The Barclays Scottish Open. I believe you've played the front nine of this golf course.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Give us your thoughts on that first.
LEE WESTWOOD: I enjoyed it. I thought it was a very pleasant nine holes, testing in places, places that gives you birdies chances and like most links golf, it will be determined by the weather how difficult it plays.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Good preparation for next week, would you agree.
LEE WESTWOOD: Excellent preparation, certainly. It's nice to play links golf before The Open Championship.

Q. One of the best new links courses you have seen?
LEE WESTWOOD: Certainly the bit I've seen, it's nice. It's a great setting, no complaints.

Q. Percentage wise, how much of a difference will it make playing here ahead of next week?
LEE WESTWOOD: Could make quite a big difference. It's 1995 since I played links golf right before the Open Championship, and that was Carnoustie. So I think I'm a bit better player than I was back then. So we'll see what effect it has.
But it's nice to go out there and shape shots, hold them into the wind and knock down shots when you need them and get used to the ball releasing when it lands rather than it the usual pitch it and it stops dead type of golf that we normally play, get used to chipping and running around the greens rather than having to flop it high and putting from off the greens from 20 yards off the green and having 30-yard putts, 60, 70 feet. That all helps, getting used to that sort of thing.

Q. How hard is it not to think about next week this week?
LEE WESTWOOD: Quite difficult because I played there on Monday so I have a clear idea of what it's going to be like in my mind. But this is a big championship and a prestigious title to win, so you have to re-set your mind and think about this week and try to play well this event. Because if you play well this week and come out with a good result -- obviously winning would be a fantastic result, but Top-10, that's momentum going into next week.

Q. Inaudible.
LEE WESTWOOD: No, I'll just take every shot on its merit.

Q. How important is it to play the week before to get the competitive juices flowing?
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, for that reason, like you just said, to get those competitive juices flowing. I like playing the week before an Open Championship, and a major, because I like to have that pressure of holing 3- or 4-footers and just the competitiveness of it, rather than -- I wouldn't want to go from the U.S. Open into The Open Championship having not played. I'm the kind of player that needs to play regularly to play my way into form.
Having said, that going into The Open last year, I was obviously injured so it was dictated to me a little bit, coming in I had the week off and I finished second. But in an ideal world, I'd prefer to play.

Q. They messed up the set-up at Sandwich in 2003?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, I think in 2003, the rough was a bit severe for the undulations and severity of the fairways. You get a lot of strange bounces if you hit it down the middle of the fairway and if it's kicking off to two-foot high rough, that's slightly unfair, but this year, I think they have set it up perfectly. It played really well on Monday. There's a couple of new bunkers down the left on 18, but other than that, I didn't see too many changes other than a couple of new tees on 7 and 3. There might be a new one somewhere else -- 15. And I think 9 might be different, as well, might change the angle, which makes that hole play a lot better. Coming across it in 2003 and now coming more straight at it, so it doesn't kick off into the left-hand rough. So I think that they did a really good job of it and hopefully the weather will be nice next week and it won't soften up too much this week and it will be one of those memorable Opens.

Q. Do you have good feeling going there having won a couple of times there as an Amateur?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, last century I won a couple of times. Hopefully it will suit me. I played nicely there on Monday, so I don't see any reason why I shouldn't play well there next week. Played all right in the last few Majors.

Q. Do yiu think there are more genuine contenders in Majors now than a few years ago when Tiger was in his pomp?
LEE WESTWOOD: I've never been that kind of person that picks out players to watch -- it's The Open Championship because it's very 'Open.' You get people that you don't expect to win winning and you get the favourites winning. That's the great thing about The Open Championship is there's so many variables that come into effect. The weather is a bigger variable than most other tournaments because the tide changes and things like that. But that's part of the joys of an Open Championship.

Q. How has your luck been in terms of god/bad side of the draw?.
LEE WESTWOOD: Oh, I always get the bad end of the draw. Can't remember. (Laughter). You never remember when you get the good end of the draw, I'll tell that. You always remember when you've been stuffed.

Q. If Rory were to go to No. 1 --
LEE WESTWOOD: That's just the way it is. I put expectations on myself so I don't really listen to what other people think. I'm trying to win a Major Championship so I put pressure on myself to do that because that's what I want to do and that's what I want to achieve. I don't really look at anybody else.

Q. Can you take risks around Castle Stuart?
LEE WESTWOOD: The front nine, certainly, there were a couple of holes out there where you can really take it on and gain a big advantage, so that's great in the golf course. You want to be rewarded for being aggressive, but also at the same time you want be penalised for getting it wrong, and certainly the front nine does that.

Q. Do you concentrate only on winning Majors?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, certainly the last three, four years I've tried to peak for the major championships and I've done that fairly successfully. But you know, I don't disrespect the other tournaments that I play by not trying or anything like that or not being 100 per cent when I get to those, as well.
It's just that when I lay down the calendar for the year, I lay down the four Major Championships and base everything else around that and if something doesn't fit in unfortunately like last week, The French Open, I would have loved to have played there. It's the sort of golf course I play well. But unfortunately it sits right in the middle of the U.S. Open and The Open Championship. And I want two weeks off and this is a links course and wanted to be competitive before The Open, and this obviously took priority and I didn't want to play three in a row with The Open being the third. That's how I work everything. Doesn't mean I won't be trying hard to win this week.

Q. There's not much more you have to do -- what makes the difference --
LEE WESTWOOD: What are you laughing at?

Q. I make you laugh -- what are you looking to do to change?
LEE WESTWOOD: It's a combination of a lot of things. I didn't make the best start of the year -- if you survive the first -- you're sort of stuffed a bit because you can't do better on a U.S. Open setup.
When I go away from tournaments and I've finished third or second, I'll look at places where I need to improve and there's not really anywhere that jumps out at me. So I figure I need to improve everything just a little bit. So I work on everything a little bit harder and I look for places that I can improve those little things. It's just managing half a shot around would have been a difference in two of the Majors between winning and finishing one shot out of the playoff twice, Tiger and Rocco, and Stewart and Tom. There have been Major Championships that have been a bit bigger margin but still, that's maybe where a little bit of luck could come in at the right type. So basically, all you can do is try your hardest and not play your way out of it and get yourself in the mix and wait for the breaks.

Q. Have you ever been this far north to play golf - apparently we are closer to Iceland than....
LEE WESTWOOD: I've been to Iceland.

Q. Did you play golf --
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah. I did play my first Boys Internationals just down the road at Nairn and British Boys Championship there. I play just down the road at a place called Fortrose, as well, a little small course there, and got knocked out. Nairn Dunbar I've played, played Skibo. Been up here before. Played in Iceland, Reykjavik, European Boys Team Championship.

Q. What's it like?
LEE WESTWOOD: Rocky and windy, and doesn't get dark.

Q. How important is to you to get your mind off of golf when you are not playing - you have your interest in the horses and things like that?
LEE WESTWOOD: Almost as important as working as hard as I do on my game to get away from it and freshen up really, have other interests. You talk to cricketers and footballers and people like that, and they all go and have a game of golf to relax. If it's your job, then it's quite hard to switch off. But I like going out there and having a game of golf with the lads and beer on the way around but it's not shutting off really and getting away from it. Still get drawn into thinking about it too much when I go out there. I'm fairly competitive so I still want to beat them. So the horses are great. I can switch off there and think about something else. I'm a professional holiday maker now. I like to get a couple of holidays in during the year.

Q. You would go mad if you didn't?
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, golf is probably, I would say, one of the most mentally draining games. So, yeah, you cannot only beat yourself up physically but mentally you can get drained and frazzled and you just need to switch off sometimes and think about something else so the freshness is there when you come back.

Q. Have you made any plans for when you stop playing?
LEE WESTWOOD: Have I? Yeah, I have the career's not going to go on forever and while in golf you can be competitive for longer than most other sports, you have to look beyond that. In my late 40s, I think realistically, I'm looking at other people's performances, I can be competitive for another seven, eight years until I'm 45, 46. Well, you don't know what's going to happen, if the enthusiasm is going to drop off, - I'll have been doing it 30 years at that point. Physically you don't know whether you're going to be able, when you look at last year and you see what happened with the injury-- you don't know what's around the corner, do you. So I try and lay down a few plans.

Q. What are you going to do?
LEE WESTWOOD: Thinking of becoming a journalist. (Laughter) Anybody can do that.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: I think we are finished on that note. Good luck for the week.

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