Lee Westwood held on as long as he could at the National PGA Champion course, one of the toughest trails on the PGA TUR. But on Friday, his strong run to Florida ended at the PGA National. His weekend will be free after shooting 78 and missing the cut.
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The last few weeks at Westwood may not have been successful in handing out the PGA TOUR cup, but they have gained plenty of new spectators for the veteran player. A shy month of his 48th birthday, he went to toe with a powerful Bryson DeChambeau at the Arnold Palmer Invitational showcased by Mastercard, forcing DeChambeau to make a 5-footer clutch for the award.
He then entered the strongest field of the season at THE PLAYERS Championship and jumped back into position, taking another lead on Sunday. Westwood ran in one last birdie on the 72nd hole and was in second place again, this time to another young gunman – Justin Thomas.
Westwood did the right thing by playing the Honda, even though he knew he was stretching himself by playing a quarter of a week in a row. The competition has been good for him in the past, and the Englishman has established his U.S. base nearby in South Florida. (“It’s not right to pull back at such a late date,” he said.) On Thursday, he sent his last two holes to a 70-yard shooting. He was in a good position. Friday, he didn’t have it. A single eunie on his 17th hole in the day (eighth) was almost enough to balance three double bogs on a hard track.
Did it run out of gas? “Yeah,” Westwood said cheerfully, “about four days ago.”
Westwood had not gone out to play on the weekend anywhere in the world since The RSM Classic in Georgia in November. After rising to 19th in the World Ranking, Westwood will be back on the tee in Austin, Texas, Wednesday for the Dell Technologies Match Play World Golf Championship. There were too many positives from the last few weeks to worry about a missed cut. He earned a big payday (over $ 2.6 million) over the past two weeks, and earned the 645 FedExCup points he earned to 22nd in the points stand. In addition, he got to spend this early week playing Augusta National Golf Club with his son, Sam, who was on his father’s bag at the Honda.
His body was telling him it was time for a brief respite before he gets it back in Texas.
“My body was telling me last Sunday (at PLAYERS),” Westwood said. “I didn’t move as well on Sunday last week. I was starting to get tired. Three weeks in a row with no day off in fact. So, I’m 48 in a month, and I can’t keep doing what the 20-year-old does. ”
Even though Bay Hill and TPC Sawgrass had the last two weeks, they did. Westwood left PGA National very confident, already looking forward to the Match Play and the Masters. For the most part, he was looking forward to some rest.