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August 9, 2011

Lee Westwood


KELLY ELBIN: World No. 2, Lee Westwood, joining us at the the 93rd PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club. This will be Lee's 14th PGA Championship appearance. His best finish was a tie for third at Hazeltine National in 2009.
Lee, tied for ninth last week in Bridgestone; how do you feel about your game coming into the final major of the season?
LEE WESTWOOD: My game is in really good shape. I played very well last week, and hopefully going to play the same this week.
KELLY ELBIN: You played nine holes so far --
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, I played the front nine.
KELLY ELBIN: You tied for 44th in '01 --
LEE WESTWOOD: I made the cut? Really? I thought I missed the cut. You sure?
KELLY ELBIN: Yeah. (Laughter.)
LEE WESTWOOD: Shows how much attention I pay. I will have to check, won't I.
KELLY ELBIN: Anyway, to compare or contrast.
LEE WESTWOOD: Are you sure I made the cut? Check on that. Let's have a look. I don't think I made any cuts in 2001; that's what I'm really saying (smiling).
KELLY ELBIN: Tied for 44th, opening 71. You had a couple 68s in the middle. So do you want to move on?
LEE WESTWOOD: I played nicely in 2001 and shot a couple of 68s, really loved the course and happy to be back. Good memories. (Laughter.)
KELLY ELBIN: You want to go hole-by-hole in all of those? (Laughter.)
What did you think of the front nine?
LEE WESTWOOD: I thought it was really good. I couldn't remember a lot of it to be perfectly honest, although I think they changed it and fiddled around with it, with the green complexes and stuff. I remember the 2nd, I remember that being a tough hole the last time we played. But it's in great condition.
The fairways are immaculate, and the greens -- are they bermuda?
KELLY ELBIN: Uh-huh, Georgia bermuda.
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, but they're not really grainy because they've really shaved them down, so they have cut all the bermuda grain out of it, so they're really nice to putt on and very fast if you get downhill, downgrain, whatever is still left in them.
Don't ask me about 2001, though.

Q. How important is fitness going to be this week with heat, and have you done anything specific beyond what you would usually do with Steve ahead of a major to combat that?
LEE WESTWOOD: Not really anything specific. You know, he does plan out a training schedule as the year -- as we go through the year. So I think we are sort of in a power phase at the moment. Gone into it a little bit more in-depth the last three weeks and managed to drop about nine pounds in three weeks, so I suppose that will help out there in the heat.
Obviously in any conditions, it helps to be fit, but it's an advantage in heat like this.

Q. To lose nine pounds, does that involve dieting, as well?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, I just felt like I was starting to get a bit heavy and just needed to lose a bit, so I've been training pretty hard, up to five times a week, and you know, just cut out all the stuff that tastes nice, unfortunately.

Q. I've got a couple. Rory sent out a Tweet the other day that he worked out with you, and you were deadlifting, how much?
LEE WESTWOOD: 354 pounds; a Chubby and a quarter. (Laughter.)

Q. I don't know about the quarter.

Q. Squats?
LEE WESTWOOD: Deadlifts.

Q. Wow. How much of the success --
LEE WESTWOOD: If I was squatting it, I would be entering the Olympics next year in London I think.

Q. How much has the success of the other guys in the stable, obviously you've seen all of your friends and running mates there hoisting pretty big trophies of late, factored into Stockton and Rotella?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, not really any. Obviously I was pleased for them to finally win major championships, but you know, what works for one doesn't work for another. You can't really compare.
I just looked at what I do, and you know, I've ticked pretty much every other box, and it's got me obviously to a very high level. To get to No. 1 in the world, you have to be doing most things right. But putting would be top of the priority list with regard to room for improvement.
Dave Stockton, I liked what I heard about him, people that had been to see him, how feel-orientated he was.
But psychology-wise, I haven't really worked with a psychologist at all throughout my career. So it just made sense to go and consult somebody on it, and I think Bob's the best, regarded as the best.

Q. Were you suspicious of psychologists?
LEE WESTWOOD: Was I suspicious?

Q. Was there a reason that you never used --
LEE WESTWOOD: Just that I was mentally strong, or as a kid coming out. But over time you kind of lose sight of certain things and you forget what you were doing and you sometimes can't put your finger on what you're doing with regard to the mental side of the game. And you just need -- you know, jogging a bit, so that made sense to go see Bob. He's got all the letters after his name, so I figured he was the best.

Q. Lee, did Darren having two psychologists make it easier for to you decide that you would finally use one?
LEE WESTWOOD: Did Darren having two? No, but Darren is a good one to consult with regards to which psychologist would be the best, having been through all of them pretty much. (Laughter).

Q. When you watched Adam putting the lights out with the long putter, I know you've tried the belly, would you go down that road, or is there any point where you would say no more experimenting?
LEE WESTWOOD: I've sort of toyed -- not the long one, the broom handle. I've toyed with the belly putter a little bit but in the back of my mind I'm a little bit of a traditionalist. I almost -- well, I did feel uncomfortable using it, but also I felt uncomfortable using the belly putter. I would fall into the Tom Watson category that way.

Q. With one of the most respected caddies out there, Billy on your bag, what does a caddie provide that maybe we can't see that easily?
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, Billy's great, because we get on so well. You know, we're friends, and we can chat out there and he can draw my attention away from the round when my mind doesn't need to be on it. He can also count, which is a big advantage (laughing). And he's got a lot of experience. He's been out here, getting on for 30 years, I think. He's seen a lot of things, caddied for a lot of good players and been in a lot of tricky situations. You know, he's been through most things.
Between us, it works pretty well. We don't get surprised very often. And he interviews well. (Laughter.)

Q. We've had a number of different major champions here recently, and I'm just curious, is the game better off without one dominant player, or do we need one dominant player that everyone can chase?
LEE WESTWOOD: I think it's exciting when there's lots of different winners and I think it's exciting when there's a dominant player. You can't say that when Tiger was winning lots of major championships, it was boring or dull; it was exciting to watch and see what he would do next.
At the same time, pretty much like tennis I suppose, you have Federer just recently and now you've got -- well, you had Nadal, and then I suppose Djokovic is in line with those two. I suppose it's competitive; other than a couple of majors, Tiger wasn't really running away with it, he was being challenged coming down the stretch.
I think it's healthy for the game both ways. I think depending who you are and what your idea is, some people are not going to like it when there's not somebody that's dominant and they are not going to like it when it's unpredictable.
So it's something you can't control, so you just -- what you get is what you get. It's better than saying it is what it is.

Q. So if you had gone to practice and you picked up a I broomstick and were holing absolutely everything, you still wouldn't use it?
LEE WESTWOOD: I've fiddled around with one on the putting green and I felt uncomfortable with it, so I wouldn't take it to the golf course if I felt uncomfortable on the putting green.

Q. If you holed everything, would you still refuse to use it? If you had gone to the practice green and holed everything with it, you still wouldn't use it in a round?
LEE WESTWOOD: If I holed everything, I'd take it out I think. Depends on the individual. I felt very uncomfortable with it.

Q. Just going back to your work with Bob, can you say in layman's terms how your approach will be different to previous majors?
LEE WESTWOOD: A lot more light-hearted, relaxed. Difficult to put into words really. Other than that, you know, try and play the tournament like I don't care really.

Q. You just seem very, very relaxed.
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, I am. It's working. The light bulb's gone on (looking up to imagine airy light bulb).

Q. Chubby going for the Slam this week --
LEE WESTWOOD: I'm not impressed with his preparation; I've seen him drinking a bit, he's not been in the gym, haven't seen him on the range yet. I wouldn't hold out much hope for him. He gets a bit flat at the back and bounces it off his shoulder occasionally.
He doesn't function well in the heat. He drinks a lot but not water, unless you count tonic water.
Sorry, Chub, I didn't see you back there. You don't really bounce it off the shoulder (laughing).

Q. What were your thoughts on Steve Williams' comments, and had that been your caddie, would you have had a conversation with him afterward?
LEE WESTWOOD: I probably would. I thought there was no relevance to the interview other than to have a good dig at Tiger Woods in the ribs, putting him on TV. It's blatantly obvious that he's a fantastic caddie, because he's won with all different kind of players. I just didn't see the point in putting him on TV. Obviously he does a good job. And there's obviously a bit of friction there. So, what's the point.

Q. You and Luke had some banter last week about the lack of coverage back home on the telly and stuff. Can you just talk about, if that was tennis, obviously you're the world's No. 1 and 2; can you talk about the sort of anomaly that we've got in Britain?
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, golf seems to be like that. Every other sport, if you had England had No. 1 and 2 in the world, they would be celebrating and it would be all over the place. But you know, it seems to be a bit quiet in England on that front.

Q. Because your dad was watching and he obviously hardly saw you.
LEE WESTWOOD: He followed me on Shot Tracker. So thanks to the Tour for running that.
It's something that Luke pointed out, but having said that, I rang home and my dad said to me and he said, "It looks like you played really well, but we didn't see any of you. But then again, we didn't see much of Luke, either."

Q. What is it? Why do you think it is? What's the problem?
LEE WESTWOOD: I don't know, you tell me.

Q. I don't know, I'm asking you.
LEE WESTWOOD: There are lots of SKY cameras out there. They were following me and Robert around on Sunday. Don't know. Maybe the battery had gone flat.
Not saying that it really bothers me to be honest. I don't find much things perplexing, really.

Q. Do you mind being referred to as the best to have never won a major? Do you mind that label?
LEE WESTWOOD: It's good to be the best at something I suppose.

Q. Do you see it as a burden or compliment?
LEE WESTWOOD: I suppose it's a compliment in a way. At least I'm good at something. (Smiling.)

Q. To beat this caddie thing one more time --
LEE WESTWOOD: Go on, then, let's beat it one more time. Aren't you all bored of it yet?

Q. You say he's a great caddie. What does that mean? It seems kind of squishy; you've got some guys who say it's a shot a hole and other guys who say they're glorified porters. What is it?
LEE WESTWOOD: The caddies, it's more what they don't say than what they do say. It's such a psychological and mental game, golf, that the smallest wrong thing at the wrong time can distract you from what you're trying to achieve.
So I think probably the best caddies are the smartest ones and the ones that are switched on mentally more than some of the others maybe. It helps to have been out a long time. I don't know how long Steve has been out, but he caddied for Ray Floyd and Greg and Tiger and he will have been through most things with those players. I guess in his early days, like everybody, or the early days of his career, he will have said the wrong thing at the wrong time and maybe he will have learnt from that.
When Adam got in certain situations or when Tiger got in certain situations, he will have known what to say or not what to say, more to the point.

Q. Going back to your fitness regime, did that drop off at any point?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, I mean, I'm not -- you wouldn't put me in the gym junkie category, so there are points during the year where I find it very hard to get into it. And there will be points during the year where I feel like my game is rusty and I need to work on that more.
You know, there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything, so I will let that slip. That's obviously not great if you're trying to stay fit, so it's a balancing act. Right now, I'm well into it.

Q. Do you think that helps in terms of your -- when you are seeing Bob and trying to get the mental side of things, do you think the fitter you are, the sharper you are mentally, out on the course, etc.?
LEE WESTWOOD: I think so. And I think if you're working out and you feel good about yourself, mentally that's good for you, as well.
And I think weeks like this week and last week, it's difficult to stand on the range beating balls so you have a couple of hours here and there to spare. I think I've been on Tour for 18 years now, so I ought to really know; I've ground it in now. I'm a pretty good striker of the ball, driver of the ball. Short game, I continue to work on, and putting, I know what to do on that. It's just a case of getting my mind right on that.
So I don't really need to do that much practice on my game, so I can go away from the course and focus a bit more on the fitness side at the moment.

Q. Still on the fitness, does Steve set your targets, and is 354 your personal best?
LEE WESTWOOD: That's my PB yeah. I set two PBs last week.

Q. What's a deadlift?
LEE WESTWOOD: Difficult to describe without getting up and showing you, and I'm not getting up. I haven't got enough weight.
No, you lift it up and then you bend from your waist, basically, to strengthen your hamstrings and your glutes. Your glutes is your butt (reaching around, indicating).

Q. Does it --
LEE WESTWOOD: God, no. If you're doing it wrong, or if you keel over.
The thing I do like about it now is I can work out and work really hard during a competition week and not feel any stiffness or anything like that, and it doesn't affect me the next day. So I can work throughout the whole week. So I must be getting stronger all around and more used to it.

Q. When you talk about having a more lighthearted attitude, do you feel like the last few years when you've been consistently in the mix at majors that you were putting more pressure on yourself as more opportunities came about and that's why you needed to try something more lighthearted now?
LEE WESTWOOD: I think so. It's a very media-driven world we all live in now, not just with the TV and you guys, but you look at Facebook and Twitter and 24-hour news and stuff like that. It can really all just get too much and you can start to believe it.
You know, you can get yourself into the position, but you really need to -- when you get into those positions, just enjoy it and have a free, clear mind and play like it doesn't really mean anything. You know, just laugh; laugh it off, really, and have fun out there and try to have fun. That's the mentality I'm trying to get back to. I'm just playing like my son, stood over a 10-foot putt on the last green of the Par-3 at the Masters and rolled it in. He wasn't thinking about whether it was square or taking it far back enough. That's just how kids do and that's the mentality I'm trying to get back into with my golf. Just kind of free-wheeling.
I've done all the hard work now. Done it for 20 years. It's time to just relax and let it flow.
KELLY ELBIN: How do you assess your play in the major championships so far this year? You had a tie for third at the U.S. Open, tied for 11th at the Masters and missed the cut at The Open Championship.
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, if I went back through, The Open, just putting let me down. Solid as ever tee-to-green.
The U.S. Open, played nicely, got off to a bad start. Not really like me the first round. Dropped a few shots at the end which I shouldn't have done through pushing and pressing and not being patient enough. And then played just solidly the next three rounds.
And Masters, played nicely. Played with the winner on the Saturday, so I couldn't have been far off. I think I finished 11th. Used the belly putter the last round, which really told the story of the whole week, putted poorly. But I think that's just a pat on the back and just shows you how strong my long game is, and when I start rolling a few putts in, then I think it will be a different story.

Q. Along those lines, if we watch you putt this week, or if I've been paying attention last week, what would I have noticed differently that you have been doing with Stockton; what are you doing that's different in terms of the before and after?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, you'll see a routine that I'm comfortable with, but you'll see me not trying.

Q. Not trying?
LEE WESTWOOD: Trying, yeah. There's no words in the English language to articulate not trying any better. (Laughter.)
Sorry, I've been trying to think of some, but I can't.

Q. I'll do the best I can.
LEE WESTWOOD: You can work with that, can't you. Can you?

Q. I hope so.
LEE WESTWOOD: Without swearing, I don't think it's possible.
KELLY ELBIN: Lee Westwood, thank you for an entertaining interview.

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