PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Lee Westwood is enjoying some home cooking this week. The newly-minted South Floridian carded a 2-under 68 to reach the halfway point at 6-under 134 at the Honda Classic.
Westwood, who moved his family to a house overlooking Old Palm Golf Club less than five minutes from PGA National, said he enjoyed not having to pack a suitcase this week. “It’s a novelty for me,” Westwood said. “I’ve never slept in my own bed when I’ve been playing in a tournament before.”
During the off-season, Westwood traded in his waterproofs for shorts since moving from his farm in Worksop, England.
“I played this tournament last year and we were driving down the road, me and (agent Chubby Chandler), and I said, ‘I could live here, for sure.’ And a year later, we have just moved in, so that was a pretty quick turnaround.
“It wasn’t a tough sell,” he said. “Do you want to go and live by the sea and the sun and by a beach? It was a pretty quick take-up, yeah.”
The move is about a lot more than working on his tan and taking long walks on the beach with his wife. It’s all part of an effort by the 39-year-old Westwood to make a push to win his first major. The Masters in April will be Westwood’s 60th attempt, and the pressure rises with each failure.
Westwood’s play tee-to-green makes him a perennial contender at the majors. It’s his short game and putting that has long been considered his Achilles’ heel. But not on this day. Westwood escaped disaster at the par-4 16th hole. With his ball plugged at the edge of the water hazard short of the green, Westwood elected to play it and took a mighty swing with his lob wedge. He lofted it out of the muck, over a bunker, to within 5 feet. He saved par.
“Keegan (Bradley) said it was one of the greatest shots he’d ever seen,” Westwood said later.
But it wasn’t even Westwood’s favorite short-game shot from his round. At the second hole, his 11th of the day, Westwood hit a weak approach from a fairway bunker that landed 34 yards short of the hole. His pitch shot bounced on the front of the green and danced to a stop 4 feet below the hole. He made that putt for par, too.
“I like the position I’m in,” Westwood said afterwards.
All that practice at Old Palm is starting to pay off, and with an eye on a bigger prize.