2013 PGA Championship Interview Transcript: Lee Westwood
KELLY ELBIN: With two Top 10s in major championships this year, Lee Westwood joining us at the 95th PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club.
This will be Lee's 16th PGA Championship. Missed the cut, unfortunately, here in 2003, but tied for 8th at the Masters, tied for third at The Open Championship, tied for 15th at the U.S. Open. Feel like your game is possibly ready to break through this week?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, hopefully. I've been hitting the ball pretty solidly. Played nicely tee to green last week. Certainly better than even the week before at The Open. So I think it's all coming together and it's a good time to start playing well.
KELLY ELBIN: You said you played a practice round yesterday out here. Good conditions, thoughts on the golf course?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, played yesterday afternoon. I thought the golf course was very good. I couldn't remember a lot from 2003. I probably wasn't here long enough to remember too much about it. But it's in great condition. There's a lot of rough, thick. So it's obviously going to be a premium on hitting the fairways, hitting the greens.
The greens weren't ridiculously quick yesterday, but I think they could probably get them a little bit quicker as the week goes on. The ball is rolling well, rolling true. Obviously if you start missing greens, it's tough. There's some thick rough around the greens.
I think it's a nice golf course, a pleasant golf course to play. There's no real tricks to it. Just seems like you've got to hit as many fairways as possible and as many greens as possible.
Q. How do you explain the switch in the putting stats from the Open to last week, and what have you done to make sure this week is more like Muirfield?
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, I had a week off in between where I didn't really work too much on my game in general, so it's probably that. I struggled to get the pace of the greens last week, as well.
Q. Have you seen Ian Baker Finch?
LEE WESTWOOD: I haven't seen him on the putting green yet, but I saw him last night in the lift, and he gave me a couple of things that we might want to work on.
Q. What would you consider, if third has been the mean result for you in Majors, what's going to top that?
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, you know, I think obviously everybody that tees it up here this week is here to try to win it. Obviously a win is the pinnacle of results.
You know, you can't really go into tournaments with that as a goal. You're going to end up disappointed a lot really. So the idea is to play the best you can and give yourself a chance on Sunday going into the back nine and just see what happens.
Q. I know you said that you didn't remember much from 2003, but looking at it, the finishing holes here, 14, the shorter four, the tough three, and then the finishing holes, can you talk about what that's going to be like especially on the weekend?
LEE WESTWOOD: Actually the only holes I could really remember were 14, 15, 17 and 18. It's nice, because really, sort of 12, 13, 14 give you a chance to make a bit of a score.
And then 15's going to be a tough par 3, I would imagine, towards the end of the golf course there and the end of the tournament.
16 gives you a bit of a break, as well.
And then 17 and 18 are tough, longer par 4s. The ideal is to hit a high cut off the tee off both of them off the left, drifting back, and leaving you a mid iron in, I guess.
So it will be a tough finish come Sunday evening.
Q. We've just had two Majors where driver wasn't used much. What about this course? How many times can you see driver will it be ten, or you could even use mid irons off the tee?
LEE WESTWOOD: I think if you're a good driver of the golf ball, then you can gain a big advantage. You can hit driver a lot. I looked at it yesterday and hit driver quite a lot. I think there's some holes where people that maybe aren't so straight with drivers are going to be hitting an iron off and probably going in with 7 iron or 6 iron possibly. Whereas, I think the good, long, straight drivers are going to be hitting driver off holes like maybe 10 and going in with a pitching wedge, so they become birdie chances if you start hitting those fairways.
So if you drive the ball straight this week, you can gain quite a significant advantage, I think.
Q. How many times did you use driver yesterday in your practice round?
LEE WESTWOOD: I don't know. Eight or nine, I think.
Q. There's been a lot of talk about the rough here this week. It's going to be, I guess, 15 feet or so off the fairway and it's going to be pretty tall, thick. It was thick at Merion. Do you see it as similar to what you're going to encounter if you're off the fairway and not sometimes being able to make a shot to the green; is that going to be a big factor?
LEE WESTWOOD: I think first and foremost, they have given you another cut in there, so it's fairway, semi, and another cut in there, I don't know what they are going to call that this week, and then there's the thick rough.
I'm all for thick rough. I think there should be a proper penalty for missing fairways. You shouldn't be able to score from the rough. That's the defense a golf course should have.
Q. I'm wondering if when you do come close in a major like you have so many times and you did at The Open Championship, what is your process when that event concludes? What do you do between The Open Championship and now to prepare? Do you evaluate what happened, or what is it that you do to get ready for the next one and then learn from the previous one?
LEE WESTWOOD: Try to analyze your performance in the last major championship and what went wrong and what you did right, and gain as much confidence from a good result as possible, really.
Q. You seemed to have made a lot of changes recently in terms of backroom staff, sports psychologist, Sean, and Ian Baker Finch. What's been the most obvious improvement you've got?
LEE WESTWOOD: It's difficult to quantify really. I think the main reason for finishing third at The Open Championship was that I putted so well. That's the first time I've putted well in I don't know how long. It seems to be what everybody else does every week, so that's a level of consistency that I've got to try to get to on the greens.
Like you say, I've been making a lot of changes and working on a lot of different things, so there's no surprise really that there was a significant difference between the Open and last week; until changes take effect, then you're going to be a little bit inconsistent. I think it's probably a combination of all three.
Q. We've gone through spells where there have been winners of Majors that have been really low ranked, yet this year, all three have been won by players inside the Top 10. Is there any reason for that that you can put your finger on, and if so, does it give you any extra confidence that the top players in the world seem to be back on top and winning the majors consistently?
LEE WESTWOOD: No, I don't really know. It's not something I've noticed. The people at the top of the World Rankings are there for a reason, because they are the better players in the world, so you think that the best players in the world are going to come the creme is going to rise to the top is the old adage, I guess.
All of the golf courses this year have been very fair, though. No tricks to them. Obviously Augusta is the same every year. But just all set up very straightforward, in front of you, and reward good play.
KELLY ELBIN: How has the transition been in moving to Palm Beach Gardens, living in the States full time, for both family, and for preparing for weekly events?
LEE WESTWOOD: You mean, apart from bumping into you now and again in the beauty shop? It's been good, a chance to get home more often. The weather down there is fantastic. Practice conditions are brilliant, really. It's nice living in shorts.
Q. There have been 14 first time winners in the last 20 Majors, I know how close you've come, but how much does that help you knowing that the trend has been that a lot of guys are winning Majors for the first time?
LEE WESTWOOD: I don't really think it helps that much. You know, as you can probably tell from the way I answer questions, what other people do I don't really analyze other people's games or results or things like that. I just try to concentrate on my own and get my own house in order.
So I don't know the reason for that, and to be honest, it's not really something I've thought too much about. I just think it shows, really, that thinking about it now, that off the cuff, I just think it shows the depth and strength of golf at the moment. There are a lot of good players playing golf at the moment and major championships are probably harder to win than they ever have been.
Q. You've been in the last group in a major both in the U.K. and in the United States, and I wonder, is it easier, if that's the right word, to operate in the last group in the United States, rather than with everybody rooting for you, in particular? And when you've been working with your sports psychologist, have you discussed how, in particular, you attack the last day when you're in that position?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, we discussed all those sort of things. I think obviously there's a bigger home advantage being in the last group at The Open, which, you know, you can make a positive, which I did do. Or people can look at it as it puts more pressure on you.
The other times I've been in the last group in the States, two that come to mind was once with Tiger in 2008 at the U.S. Open in California where he's from, and once with Phil at the Masters at Augusta where he's quite popular. Both times, that's been kind of the underdog role, and I played well both those rounds.
So there's pluses and minuses to both of them, but it's just the way you approach it, really, in your own mind and how you attack that day.
Q. And the sports psychologist, how you attack the last day?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, we discussed that, what sort of thinking I should be playing and adopting and stuff like that.
Q. Over the last ten years, what do you think has changed the most in how you prepare for and view major championships?
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, certainly since sort of 2008, I feel like I've contended every time I come to a major championship, and really, no matter sort of what level my game is at, I can operate for that week, and I feel like that's why I've probably contended in most of them. I haven't got the figures on it but that's certainly been the difference over the last ten years.
KELLY ELBIN: Lee Westwood, thank you very much.
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