Lee Westwood is relishing a dream first-round draw alongside defending champion Dustin Johnson as he bids to crown his twentieth Masters by changing into the event’s oldest winner.
‘By placing me with DJ, it reveals they need to nonetheless assume I’m a contender!’ stated the Englishman, who turns 48 later this month.
‘I feel the back-to-back runner-up finishes I had in Florida final month validated the reality I can nonetheless compete for the large prizes, and I at all times take pleasure in enjoying with Dustin. You cannot ask for a greater draw than enjoying alongside the world’s finest golfer.’
Lee Westwood is determined to turn into the oldest Masters winner of all time this week
Westwood has been paired with world No 1 and reigning champion Dustin Johnson at Augusta
Westwood could have his teenage son Sam as his caddie in what he hopes will show a very good omen.
When Jack Nicklaus turned the oldest Masters winner in 1986 aged 46, he had his son Jackie on the bag. The third member of the group is US Amateur champion Tyler Strafaci.
They will tee off at 10.30am on Thursday (3.30pm UK time), simply forward of Rory McIlroy — who will play alongside Jon Rahm and Xander Schauffele.
Bryson DeChambeau is not going to be unleashing his howitzers in the company of Adam Scott and Max Homa till 6.36pm UK time, whereas Jordan Spieth is in the final group of all at 7pm — partnered with PGA champion Collin Morikawa and final year’s Masters runner-up Cameron Smith.
Westwood additionally admitted he’ll take inspiration from his hyperlinks to Nicklaus as he makes an attempt to interrupt the 18-time main winner’s document of oldest Masters champion.
Westwood will have fun his forty eighth birthday simply 13 days after the finish of the eighty fifth Masters.
‘Even with out that, Jack has at all times been an inspiration the approach he performed the recreation, particularly his document round right here,’ Westwood stated. ‘You can not help being impressed. There’s just a few similarities there with age. It can be nice to interrupt his document.
‘I noticed Jack just a few weeks in the past at the Honda (Classic) and I nonetheless keep in mind the first time I performed this event in 1997.
‘I performed the remaining spherical with Jack and I went out on the Saturday evening and purchased the image, the iconic one (from 1986) the place he is following the ball into the gap on 17 with his putter.
‘And after we performed on the Sunday I had accomplished sufficient to qualify for the following year, thankfully, and I stated to Jack, “Would you mind signing this picture for me?” And I nonetheless have it to at the present time all framed up the place he is put, “Lee, enjoyed our round, best wishes, Jack Nicklaus”.
Westwood is taking inspiration from golf icon Jack Nicklaus, who received in 1986 at the age of 46
‘There’s only a few individuals you’ll try this with. He’s a legend of the recreation and arguably the biggest participant to ever play the recreation. His document in the main championships and particularly Open Championship and right here is second to none.
‘I at all times take pleasure in talking with Jack and selecting his brains and simply being in his company, actually. To have an opportunity to interrupt one in all his data can be very particular.
‘It’s wonderful I’m sufficiently old to have my son on the bag and nonetheless be competing in these tournaments, and having Sam to take pleasure in the expertise with me, I’ve to shut his mouth each now and once more once we’re going round right here; he loves it a lot.’
Westwood holds the undesirable document of most top-three finishes in a significant (9) with out successful one, with three of these coming at Augusta National. The 47-year-old was runner-up to Phil Mickelson in 2010, third in 2012 – two pictures out of the play-off received by Bubba Watson – and runner-up to Danny Willett in 2016.
In whole the former world primary has made the lower 16 occasions in 19 appearances in the Masters and has loved some wonderful kind in 2021 with runners-up finishes in the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Players Championship.
‘It is validation, actually, that I’m nonetheless ok at my age to be out right here and contending,’ Westwood added. ‘It’s the fruits of plenty of various things.
Westwood performed with and spoke to Nicklaus at the Honda Classic event in March
‘I’ve clearly been working laborious at my recreation, however I’ve a very good staff round me. Steve McGregor, we work on the bodily health aspect of the recreation. Ben Davies, I work on the psychological aspect of the recreation and that is made a giant distinction. Liam James on the swing. Try to not neglect anyone. There’s a giant staff.
‘It’s not only one factor that makes you play effectively. Golf’s received so many alternative aspects. Phil Kenyon on my placing, as effectively. I went to the pencil grip about two years now which has made an enormous distinction.
‘When I get below stress, I really feel extra snug below stress. All that and enjoying effectively has bred confidence.
‘I possibly do not play in addition to typically any extra, however after I do play effectively, I are likely to contend, and with the work I’ve accomplished on the psychological aspect of the recreation, I really feel much more snug on the market.
‘I heard Jordan Spieth say one thing final week about he feels snug below stress once more and he can cope with it. And that is how I really feel after I do get into the warmth of battle and near the lead. I really feel snug once more.’