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Lee Westwood is excited by the prospect of his own ‘American Trilogy’ - but says his best chance of a third PGA Tour win is probably not the most obvious one.
In the coming weeks Westwood will be returning to Bay Hill and to Sawgrass, where he finished runner-up on both occasions in 2021.
The former world No.1 lost out by a shot to Bryson DeChambeau in a thrilling climax to the Arnold Palmer Invitational last year, and was then pipped by the same margin at the Players Championship by the fast-finishing Justin Thomas.
It is not the first time Westwood has shone in those events. And it was his exploits in those back-to-back tournaments that convinced him he could still compete with the best in the game, even though he will turn 49 next month. But he still rates his chances of winning this week’s Honda Classic as slightly better than the others.
He explained: “I really enjoy the Florida Swing because these next three events are all played on courses that I think really suit my game.
“I’ve gone close in all of them, but if I had to pick one that was the best fit, I’d probably go for this week’s venue, the PGA National. I absolutely love that course. It is a real shot-makers course, a tough par 70 where you rarely see crazy scores winning.
“I’ve put in quite a few good performances there over the years, and finished fourth there a couple of times - including two years ago, and the winning score that week was six under. Matt Jones bucked the trend a bit by finishing 12 under last year - but seven under took second, so that shows the winning score was a bit of an abnormality.
“I like events where you have to really grind out a score, and I feel like I’ve played well at the start of the year without maybe getting the rewards I feel I deserved. It would be great to put that right this week.”
Westwood actually missed the cut at the Honda last year. But it was the third of the Florida events then, and he believes his near-misses at the Players and Bay Hill caught up with him. He started respectably enough with a level par 70 but three doubles bogeys on day two meant it was never going to be a case of third time lucky.
He added: “I think being in contention for pretty much the full eight days at Bay Hill and Sawgrass took its toll. So I like the fact that the Honda falls first this time, as it did the first two years that the Players returned to its March date.
“I let things slip a bit when I was in good positions in Abu Dhabi and Dubai at the start of the year, but I put that behind me and played well in Saudi Arabia, at a course that didn’t really suit me.
“I’ve got a busy stretch coming up, because I’m also going to play the World Match Play before we head to the Masters. And turning up to Augusta with a ‘W’ under your belt would be the perfect preparation.”
David brings a wealth of experience to Golf Monthly as a freelance contributor having spent more than two decades covering the game as The Sun's golf correspondent. Prior to that, he worked as a sports reporter for the Daily Mail. David has covered the last 12 Ryder Cups and every Masters tournament since 1999. A popular and highly-respected name in the press tents around the world, David has built close relationships with many of the game's leading players and officials.
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