USPGA Championship: Lee Westwood still hopeful of breaking major duck at Oak Hill
Last Updated: 02/08/13 2:48pm
Lee Westwood: Will play in his 63rd major at Oak Hill
After the disappointment of the Open Championship, Lee Westwood could be forgiven for thinking that the last thing he needed was another major just around the corner.
But just three weeks after finishing third at Muirfield, the Englishman will contest the USPGA Championship at Oak Hill, the 63rd major of a career only lacking one of golf's four biggest titles.
The close proximity of the Open and USPGA was music to the ears of Ian Poulter, who finished in the same position as Westwood but in starkly different moods.
Westwood had taken a two-shot lead into the final round at Muirfield only to shoot a closing 75, while Poulter surged through the field with a 67 that set what looked a highly competitive clubhouse target of one over until Phil Mickelson's brilliant finish.
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For Poulter there was the feeling that his game had come together following a patchy season by his standards. For Westwood there was only the agony of another chance - possibly his best chance - to win a maiden major title slipping away.
Already arguably the best player not to have won a major, Muirfield meant Westwood now had the unwelcome statistic to perhaps make it official.
The 40-year-old has eight top-three finishes in major championships without winning one, having previously shared the record of seven with Harry Cooper.
"You try not to make them disappointments and take the positives out of it rather than the negatives. I just think if you just keep putting yourself in contention, that's all you can do," he said.
"Sometimes I have played well in the last round and somebody has played a bit better. Other times I have not done the right things and let them slip.
"But all you can do is keep trying to improve all the time and looking for places to improve and fine-tune your game, and hopefully doing that, I will win one one day.
"I just think if you just keep putting yourself in contention, that's all you can do. I am giving myself chances regularly, so hopefully one day I will do enough and win one."
"Obviously it would be great. I have never won one, so it would be the pinnacle of my career. I have been to world number one, but players' careers are based around major championships, so it would be nice to win one, obviously."
In the 20th year of his career, time would not appear to be on Westwood's side, but he does not need to look far for proof that golf is certainly not just a young man's game.
His close friend and stablemate Darren Clarke won the Open in 2011 at the age of 42, the same age at which Ernie Els lifted the Claret Jug 12 months later.
Mickelson of course was even older, 43, when he won at Muirfield on his 20th Open appearance, while Jack Nicklaus won the Masters in 1986 aged 46 and the oldest major winner of all time, Julius Boros, was 48 when he won the 1968 USPGA.
"It's something like seven or eight top-threes in my last 20 majors, or something like that, so it's a pretty good record," Westwood continued. "I am giving myself chances regularly, so hopefully one day I will do enough and win one."
The USPGA Championship has not been kind to Englishmen over the years, with Jim Barnes the last and only winner in 1916 and 1919. Both England and Westwood are long overdue.