Augusta, Ga. | Englishman Lee Westwood lost another major, yet was upbeat.
“I’m Lee,” he joked. “Phil is coming in in a minute. He’ll be wearing a green jacket.”
Westwood, who has finished third, third and second, respectively, in the past three major championships, expressed pride in his performance:
“I shot 71, at the end of the (final) day, which is not a terrible score around Augusta when you’re in the lead (by one over Phil Mickelson after three rounds).”
He praised Mickelson: “Phil shot 67, which generally wins major championships when people are there or thereabouts going into the last round. He hit good shots when he needed to around the back nine.”
Then came a major reason for Westwood’s high spirits. “If you sat me down at the start of the year and asked me to rate which ones (majors) suit me,” he said, “I would probably put the Masters last and say it was the one that suited me the least.
“So to finish second is obviously a massive boost for the rest of the year.”
Westwood, 36, was tied for the lead through eight holes, then bogeyed nine to fall one behind Mickelson. Even though the Englishman was 2 under par on the back nine, he surrendered more ground to Mickelson, who played the back in 4 under.
If Westwood was happy, his caddie, Billy Foster, was even more so. “He’s played awesome all week,” Foster said. “Yeah, just a little bit off today, but he’s played magnificent golf, and he’s a great player. So his time will come.”
On the other hand, Ian Poulter, Westwood’s countryman, was less than thrilled with his weekend performance. After sharing the 36-hole lead with Westwood at 136, Poulter shot 147 for the final two rounds. He tied for 10th, a whopping 11 strokes behind Mickelson.
“I’m not happy walking away from this golf course finishing 10th,” he fumed. “I’m pretty mad right now. I’ve got every reason to be. I was leading on Friday . . . it’s a shame I finished where I did.”
Thanks to Westwood and Poulter, English golf is experiencing a renaissance. Those two, plus Paul Casey, were ranked among the top 10 in the world coming into the Masters.
Furthermore, Luke Donald, Ross Fisher and Oliver Wilson also were among the top 40.
Asked about Mickelson’s miraculous shot from the trees at 13, Westwood concluded with another statement that pointed to his golfing maturity.
“It was one of the few shots, really, that only Phil could pull off,” he said. “I think most people would have just chipped that one out. But, you know, that’s what great players do . . . they pull off great shots at the right time.”
For his part, Mickelson related a conversation with Westwood as they walked off the final green: “I told him he is playing some of the best golf of anybody in the world. He’s an incredible player, and I pull for him, and I want him to win his first major soon, because he is that kind of talent, that type of player and a quality guy.”