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Ross Fisher
Ross Fisher is looking to take a big step into the ranks of major winners. (Franklin/Getty Images)

Westwood and Fisher looking to break English drought

Neither youngster Ross Fisher nor veteran Lee Westwood can explain why it's been 17 years since an Englishman won the Open. Now, both are in prime position to end the puzzling dry spell.

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM Chief of Correspondents

TURNBERRY, Scotland -- Lee Westwood has been there before. Ross Fisher, on the other hand, may have to go somewhere else.

The two men, though, are primed to end a 17-year English drought at the Open Championship that dates back to Nick Faldo’s third and final victory in 1992.

The 28-year-old Fisher, who is on pins and needles with the arrival of his first child imminent, starts Sunday’s final round of the 138th renewal at Turnberry tied for second with Mathew Goggin, one stroke behind the ageless Tom Watson.

Westwood, who has 18 wins on the European Tour as well as one in America, is another stroke further back at 2 under and in a tie with two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen. Both Fisher and Westwood, who finished fourth at Royal Troon in 2004, shot 70s on Saturday.

“I'm not sure why a British guy hasn't won the Open,” Fisher said. “We've got a tremendous amount of talent in the game, you know.  Hopefully that will win tomorrow -- whether it's myself or whether it's Lee or someone else. 

“It's a shame, but hopefully we can boost the British game and European golf and try and get a win.”

But Fisher will be keeping an eye toward his home in Cheam, where his wife Jo -- just like Amy Mickelson at the 1999 U.S. Open -- is on the verge of giving birth. Amanda Mickelson was born the day after her dad finished second to Payne Stewart at Pinehurst.

Fisher made it clear again Saturday that he would leave Turnberry to be with his wife should she go into labor. He said the birth of his first child is “something I definitely don’t want to miss.

“It will be a shame, but I guess we'll just have to cross that bridge when we come to it, “ Fisher said. “It's been a long week.  It's been an intriguing week, obviously for a number of reasons, you know.  I've got through three days, she's got through three days.  Hopefully, like I say, I can hang on for one more day, and hopefully she can. 

“Who knows, to win, and then to get back home and to see the birth of our first child would be obviously a dream come true.  But there's a long way to go.  Let's just hope that we can both hold on.” 

Fisher, who has won on the European Tour each of the last two years, is still relatively new to the major championship stage. He gained confidence a month ago, though, when he finished fifth at the U.S. Open at Bethpage. 

“Obviously it's going to be very, very difficult, but, you know, hopefully I can keep my mind on the job and just go out there and perform as well as I can,” Fisher said. “You know, like I said all week, it's going to be very, very difficult.  Hopefully I won't have to make any rush decisions.  Hopefully Jo can hang on.’

Westwood can draw on a U.S. Open, too -- last year’s at Torrey Pines, where he played with Tiger Woods in the final round and finished one shot out of the playoff. Not to mention, the 36-year-old doggedly fought his way back to the upper echelon after his game disappeared following his 2001 Order of Merit-leading season.

“I think the more experiences you have, the more equipped you become to handle most situations and deal with most things that come at you,” Westwood said. “I would probably suggest I've experienced more in golf than most people out there playing.  So I know what it's like to play both ends of the string, I suppose.
“Having been in contention at the U.S. Open last year, and played that last round with Tiger there and learnt a lot there, you know, I can carry that on through to tomorrow and try my usual stuff that I've learned from my experiences.”

The sentimental favorite may be Watson, the five-time Open champion who is trying to do the unthinkable just 47 days before his 60th birthday. Fisher and Westwood have plenty of support, too, though, and Sunday could be a magical day for them, as well.

“I always get a pretty good reception at most tournaments, but especially the Open Championship,” Westwood said. “And I don't think there's a much better walk in golf, for certainly a British golfer, than the walk onto the 18th green in an Open Championship.  It's an unbelievable reception.”

Imagine what it would be like on Sunday if either one has the lead.

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