TURNBERRY, Scotland – Two years. Two putts to get into a playoff. Two misses.
Only this time Lee Westwood didn’t know it.
After playing an astonishing shot from a deep fairway bunker at the final hole at Turnberry on Sunday, the 36-year-old Englishman left himself with a long birdie putt he thought he needed to stay in contention for the Open.
At last year’s U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, he failed to sink a putt on the final green to miss out on the title. On Sunday, the 36-year-old Englishman watched Stewart Cink beat Tom Watson in a playoff after shooting a 1-over 71 in the final round.
With Watson a shot ahead at 3 under going to the last hole, Cink was already in the clubhouse at 2 under. Westwood believed he had to make the 60-foot putt and attacked the pin. He sent it 10 feet past, missed that and slipped out of contention at 1 under.
“I’ve gone from frustration to sickness now,” Westwood said after tying for third.
“I figured – I thought I’d have to hole it, to be perfectly honest,” Westwood said. “I didn’t see Tom bogeying the last, since he’s such an experienced player. But he obviously got a bogey there.”
Five-time British Open winner Watson and Cink were tied at 2-under 278 and headed for the playoff. Westwood, who almost made an 18-foot eagle putt at the 17th, was left to think about another missed chance in a major.
At Torrey Pines, Westwood had a 15-footer to force a playoff with Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate. He left it short and finished third.
“Both are pretty sickening, but obviously this is the Open championship and it’s the one that means the most to me,” Westwood said. “Third place is not to be sniffed at in a major championship. But (the feeling is) disappointment, really.
“I was pretty happy with the way I played all day, hit lovely shots. I made some good up-and-downs when I needed to. The putts on 16 and 17 I thought I’d made. And the biggest disappointment is, obviously, three-putting the last.”
Westwood said he didn’t think his tee shot at the last had gone into the fairway bunker.
“I thought it had actually gone down the fairway,” he said. “It must have gone back and curled back in there. I hit a great shot out of the trap but didn’t finish it off.”
On a final day when the lead changed almost hole by hole, Westwood appeared to be well in contention. A birdie putt from 18 feet at the sixth and a 15-foot eagle at the seventh helped him to 2 under at the turn. But he bogeyed three of his last four holes, and his eagle putt at 17 appeared to be going in but stayed right.
“You know, you’ve just got to keep working,” said Westwood, who finished fourth at the 2004 British Open at Troon. “I’m putting in the hard work at the moment, and it’s obviously paying off because I’m getting closer.”