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April 3, 2012

Lee Westwood


GEORGE DAVIS:テつ Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.テつ It's my pleasure to introduce Lee Westwood this morning.テつ In 2011, Lee finished just outside the Top‑10 in the Masters.テつ He went on to finish inside the Top‑10 at the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship.テつ He is currently ranked No. 3 in the world.
Before opening up to questions, Lee, would you have any opening comments for us?
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ Not really.テつ (Laughing.)
Well, obviously I had a practice round yesterday, and the course is as good as ever.テつ So it will be a good week as it always is, and hopefully it will get a great finish, as you normally do.
GEORGE DAVIS:テつ Terrific.テつ And how have you been preparing?テつ Are there any particular aspects of your game you're focusing on.
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ I think most of us focus on the short game aspects this week.テつ Tee‑to‑green, it's pretty much like any other golf course, but around the greens, it tests you to the limit.テつ And on the greens, obviously with the speed of the greens, it tests you, as well.
So I think the next couple of days is just a case of preparing for that and getting used to the speed of the greens and the variations and the type of shots you're asked to play; a few different shots around here that we don't normally play week‑in, week‑out.
So they are the main challenges.

Q.テつ Over the years, they have tweaked the course a bunch.テつ How much have the greens changed?テつ Have you had to relearn them at all over the course of time, or are they just too subtle to really...
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ Not really, no.テつ You know, a putt can change dramatically in line, five, six feet, just by being a foot different from where you're putting from.
So when they do change things here and change the greens, it's very difficult to notice, anyway, it's so subtle and well done.テつ They have changed a couple of greens for this year, the 8th and the 16th, to accommodate new pins I think on a couple of the holes, front left on 16; and I think there's probably middle right end a place for the flag on 8.テつ But they said they made the top level on 16 a little bit wider and a little bit flatter, but you can't really tell.テつ Even standing there and just staring at it, you can't see the obvious change.テつ So it's not a case of relearning the greens, because every putt you have out there is a new challenge.

Q.テつ Since 2010, have you come back the past couple years with a different level of expectation?
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ No.テつ I've always looked forward to coming here and felt like the golf course should suit me, even from coming close in '99 and obviously came really close in 2010 and the year before that played all right and 2011 played all right.
Seem to be getting the hang of it.テつ I think it's somewhere all of us look forward to coming back to.テつ It's a very special week, and, you know, it has the history and tradition, and it's a major championship.テつ So it's one that everyone looks forward to.

Q.テつ Is a high‑profile draw less relevant here than other events?
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ The draw doesn't really have that much of an effect.テつ I would imagine I'll be 9:09 one of the mornings, but you never know.テつ Seems to have been the case the last few years.テつ It will be around there.テつ You know, you tend to be right at the back of the draw for TV times and things like that.テつ It doesn't really have much of an effect.テつ It's a small field and the course stands up well to the play.
People don't really wear aggressive spikes anymore.テつ So it's fair from start to finish.テつ Occasionally certain sections of the draw are helped by the weather or hindered by the weather, but I don't think who you're playing with has any effect.テつ And I've always found that it seems a little bit quieter when the tournament rounds start.テつ It's so hectic, the practice rounds, there are that many people in here.テつ Obviously there's less people when the tournament starts, because they curtail the ticket sales.テつ It's quite quiet out there the first couple of days.

Q.テつ We are all kind of pretty excited about this tournament, wonder if you are because of all of the great players all coming in great form at the same time, wondering if you're excited and if you can maybe identify some of who you think will be contending?
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ I'm excited to play in the Masters and I'm excited just to come here.テつ I'm not so excited that everybody is playing well, obviously.テつ I wish that everybodywas playing poorly.テつ (Laughter.)
Obviously if I was sat down there, I would be excited.テつ Not sat next to you particularly.テつ Don't get me wrong.テつ (Laughter.)
It's great for the game of golf and the Masters Tournament that it's been such a good run into it with the top players winning big events and Tiger coming back into form.テつ You know, it's whipped up a bit of a frenzy, I suppose.

Q.テつ Did you see what Rory said about you and Chubby, that he was led down the wrong path?
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ I didn't see it.テつ What path was that?

Q.テつ It's the only tournament of the year where there's not much noise going on for you guys inside the rope, no media on the range or inside the ropes when you're playing.テつ Does that make it easier at all?テつ Do you notice that?テつ Is it less congested for you as a player?テつ Is it a good thing?
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ You certainly notice it.テつ I played behind Ryo Ishikawa yesterday and I really noticed that.テつ It was just him and his caddie inside the ropes instead of an entourage of 30.
So you certainly notice it as a player.テつ You don't have scorers inside the ropes.テつ It's quite quiet out there.テつ Especially when you get to a hole like 11 where the crowd is only there on one side and 40 yards in the trees; and the 12th green, as well, there's nobody down there.テつ So it's a different atmosphere out there, yeah.

Q.テつ When you look back on your performance at 2010, when you shot a score that would have won the vast majority of Masters, was your emotion looking back pride or frustration or confidence that you know you can do it here?
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ Well, I always felt like I could do it here.テつ I always felt like the golf course suits my game.テつ But when you come close like that, it gives you an extra boost of confidence out there, yeah.テつ I played all right that last day there.テつ It's just Phil played really well, shot 67.テつ Sometimes there's nothing you can do about that.

Q.テつ Tiger has obviously finished fourth here the past two years, even when he has not been that convincing in a lot of other places.テつ From what you've seen over the last couple of weeks winning at Bay Hill by five, does it convince you that he can recapture at least some of his former dominance and have maybe the same kind of aura that he used to have here?
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ Well, I didn't watch Bay Hill, but I played with him a couple of weeks before that in the Honda where he finished second.
You could see there was sort of‑‑ sort of flickers of the game coming back.テつ Starting to hit shots where he would hold it against the wind or drive it with a little bit more shape on it where you need to have total control.
And one thing is for sure about people that are winners:テつ when they get back into the situation of trying to win a tournament, they know how to generally finish it off, or at least come close, doing the right things at the right time, having the right mind‑set and attitude with regard to finishing the tournament off.

Q.テつ How do you feel about your game right now coming into this?テつ Do you feel as confident as you always do when you come here?テつ Have you felt more confident in other years?テつ What's the state of your game right now?
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ I feel as confident.テつ I have started this season better than I do most seasons with some good results this year.テつ Had a couple of chances to win.
So I'm pretty confident.テつ Game feels in good shape.テつ I'm pleased having played last week after having two weeks off, because I don't practice a lot when I'm at home, and I didn't get a chance to play or practice because the weather is pretty miserable back in England at this time of year.
So it was good to play in Houston last week and shake off a bit of rust and be competitive going into this week.テつ I wouldn't want three weeks off and then have to play competitively on Thursday.テつ I feel far happier having three days off and being competitive on Thursday.

Q.テつ How much improvement have you made with Phil Kenyon helping you, and if you were 6 out of 10 last year, what do you think‑‑ how much have you increased that?
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ It's difficult to rate it really.テつ I feel a lot more comfortable.テつ He's given me a few better ideas about, you know, what makes a good putt a good putt, basically, and what I have to do in my stroke to putt well.
So it's just a case of me then adapting that for my own stroke.

Q.テつ There were times last year at the US PGA where you were really down about it.
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ It's frustrating when you are hitting a lot of good shots tee‑to‑green, and you're playing well enough to ‑‑ because that ought to be the hardest part of the game to get right, when you're playing well enough to win the tournaments, but I'm not making the putts.
I had a lot of putts 10 to 20 feet for birdie, and it is easy to get frustrated out there, because I had a lot of them from the outside.テつ And sometimes I'm not subjective enough that when I have a lot of putts, I'm obviously going to miss more than most people.テつ So sometimes you have to step back and look at it from a clearer point of view really.

Q.テつ Did you always think Tiger would be back?テつ Did you think you would always have to sort of deal with him again at major tournaments?
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ Yeah, I didn't see any reason why not.テつ I've been through a similar sort of thing with a slip in form, and eventually you figure it out.テつ Just a case of when.
But obviously, you know, when you do go through something like that, you know there is scar tissue there and you know you don't feel quite as bulletproof as you once were.

Q.テつ Did you hope he would be back for the game of golf?
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ He's very good for golf, yeah.テつ There's no doubt about that.

Q.テつ So it wasn't a personal thing where you think‑‑
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ No, and I don't really pay too much attention to anybody else's games.テつ So I generally just concentrate on what I'm doing, and my game is the only one I can control.
But from a golf point of view, it's good to have Tiger playing well.テつ He encourages another level of golf spectator to the game.テつ He draws in people that might only watch, say, four tournaments a year, the majors, to watching‑‑ I'm sure the viewing figures went up at Bay Hill when he was in contention.

Q.テつ I know that you've worked with Phil at Honda, Doral, also I'm sure he was at Houston, as well.テつ How ingrained is what he's working with you on is it in your stroke?テつ And secondly, off and on, you have Billy read your putts or help with your putts, how much will Billy be involved in that process this week?
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ Yeah, the more I do it, the more ingrained it gets obviously.テつ I think we have figured out that the rhythm of the stroke is not fast enough, so that's something that I'm continually working on, which I find quite tricky around here because it's difficult to speed your stroke up on these greens.テつ You do have a tendency to want to go slower.テつ Just edge it down there.
And I probably won't use Billy as much.テつ I generally only call Billy in when it's a straight putt, and he knows that.テつ (Laughter.)テつテつ Generally when I call him over to have a look, he doesn't even come over.テつ He just says, "It must be straight."テつテつ
But this week, I think you need a lot of imagination, because the way the putt plays, it plays an even more pivotal role in whether it goes in or even what line you're picking.テつ What Billy might see as two feet outside right lip, I might see as four feet and dribble in more; it depends.テつ You kind of have to plot your way around these greens.テつ That's where the imagination comes in.テつ So I probably won't use him this week, which he'll be relieved about.

Q.テつ Clearly as recently as last year with Darren winning in his early 40s, guys in their late 30s and 40s win majors.テつ But from your perspective, how has the patience been for you?テつ How hard is it to be patient when the majors roll around and just sort of let things happen?
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ It's quite frustrating at a time when you keep coming close.テつ I think we, as golfers, keep ourselves fitter than probably we used to.テつ So I think there's greater longevity in our careers now.テつ We can play‑‑ and I think technology has had something to do with it as well.テつ You can play better and longer into your career.
Obviously Darren is a perfect example of keeping yourself fit well into your 40s.テつ (Laughter.)
So, yeah, it's no surprise that the likes of Steve Stricker, Darren, Vijay a few years back; Kenny Perry came close here.テつ I see it continuing.テつ We are almost more of athletes now than we used to be, even though I don't like associating the word "athlete" with certainly myself.

Q.テつ The gender issue thing has come up over here, again?
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ What gender issue?テつ I'm a man.テつ (Nodding, looking down).

Q.テつ Not you specifically.テつ Not hanging around the locker room.テつ Just wondering whether that gets much traction overseas and whether people abroad look at this as a uniquely peculiar American concern or if they understand what it's all about.
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ It's not something I think about.

Q.テつ Do you have an opinion?
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ Not really.

Q.テつ Not going to go there?
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ No.テつ (Laughter.)

Q.テつ Luke said when he won at Transitions over the putt in the playoff, that he sort of stood there thinking, right, you've won the U.S. Tour putting stats three times in a row, just knock it in.テつ What thoughts go through your mind for a clutch putt?
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ Just to remind yourself that you've holed thousands of putts like that over this period of your career really.テつ That's it.
That's what you put all the practicing in for.テつ That's why you stand for all the hours on the putting green.テつ When you get into that situation, you just click into autopilot and do the same thing and have confidence in your ability.

Q.テつ Do you find that you need to think more for a putt like that when it's to win the tournament than you would for‑‑
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ No, you should probably try and think less and grip the putter as lightly as you can and make a nice, smooth stroke and rely on all that hard work.

Q.テつ Are there more sidehill lies, downhill lies, uphill lies here than most courses you play?テつ And can you talk specifically about the second shot on 13?
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ Yeah, there certainly are.テつ You find yourself‑‑ I think it may be something to do with the fairways being a little bit longer than normal.テつ They seem to be a lot tighter on other golf courses, but here they leave them a little bit longer, so maybe it holds on the slopes a little bit more.
And then certainly you get a lot of sidehill lies.テつ Obviously 13 is one of the trickier ones because you're obviously on a sidehill lie, but sometimes you're on a downhill lie, as well, which would lend itself to a draw I suppose, and the creek is on the right.テつ So you're aiming at the creek trying to draw it in to a green that probably would support a fade rather than any other shot.
So there's a lot of contradictions stood over the ball in that fairway.

Q.テつ The more you play this place, what do you learn about this course and this tournament?
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ Just where to miss it basically.テつ You can plot your way around, but missing it in the right place around this golf course is important.テつ Sometimes you are better off having a chip from under the hole than a 15‑footer above the hole.

Q.テつ And how long did it take you to learn those nuances?
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ I'll let you know when I get there.テつ I think it changes all the time.テつ And sometimes you hit shots and you think you're all right and then you get up there and you're screwed, basically.
On 14 yesterday, even in a practice round, I missed it where I thought it was short enough, thought I would have a chip but it was still two, three yards far left, and best I could do was 20 feet.テつ It's a constant challenge.テつ You have to adapt a lot.

Q.テつ According to Sports Illustrated, Tiger versus Rory is the only story in golf.テつ There's a famous instance of Nicklaus of writing him off in motivation.テつ Wonder if that acts as a motivator for you and Luke and a bunch of other players?
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ Well, I don't really read anything, to be perfectly honest.テつ You know, something like that‑‑ we all know what articles like that are, basically.
But, you know, Rory has never won here.テつ Tiger's not won here since 2005.テつ So I think everybody in this room would have to be naテδッve to think it was a two‑horse race, wouldn't they.テつ There's more.テつ I think Phil might have a little bit of something to say about that; Luke might; I might.
Can I use the "it is what it is."

Q.テつ For the rest of you, with the focus on them‑‑
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ Yeah, I hope they get drawn together and we can just cruise around together on our own in our little bubbles.

Q.テつ Sort of for you and Luke‑‑
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ For everybody, yeah.
It's our last question.テつ Make it a good one.テつ No pressure (leaning forward with anticipation).

Q.テつ We start to maintain more and more because of people like you and Phil and Rory and Tiger and others, Martin Kaymer, Charl Schwartzel, that fields are stronger now than ten or 15 years ago.テつ Wonder what your thoughts are on that.
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ The top players were here 20 years ago, weren't they?テつ It's really difficult to compare generations.テつ In fact, it's impossible.テつ So what is the point in doing it?
I think obviously you get a pretty strong field here.テつ They set the rules out before it all starts.テつ Everybody knows it, and if you qualify, you qualify, and if you don't, you've got no argument about it, have you.
Is that a good answer?テつ Tick all your boxes?

Q.テつ Most of them?
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ Go on.テつ Carry on them.テつ Follow‑up.テつ (Laughter).

Q.テつ We also think about the other guys that don't get as much press, a Simon Dyson or something like that; in theory, we just think that from top to bottom, the fields are stronger, not just here but in general now than they ever have been before, and we are not necessarily talking about generations or eras, but talking about the last five or ten years and what's that I'm asking, you've been in both five and ten years ago and now.
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ Was there a question in there?テつ Sorry.

Q.テつ The question is, are they stronger, in your own mind?テつ Can more people win an event now than maybe in an event than maybe back in the day when there were only five or six guys to focus on; now is it more ten or 20 guys?
LEE WESTWOOD:テつ Well, in theory, everybody can win, couldn't they.テつ But you can narrow it down to 30 people probably whose games are suited.テつ Some people are not going to be long enough here.テつ Some people won't be on their game this week.
So you could probably pick out 30 guys I'd say.テつ I've just been given one of them from behind you, so I guess that's me done, or I'm running out that door (laughing.)
GEORGE DAVIS:テつテつ Thank you for your time.

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