Waste Management Open: Lee Westwood excited by first outing at TPC Scottsdale
By Mark Kendall - Twitter: @SkySportsMK. Last Updated: 30/01/14 3:58pm
Lee Westwood feels the changes his has made to his game has started to take effect ahead of the Phoenix Open
Lee Westwood is looking forward to his first experience of playing at raucous TPC Scottsdale and insists he is beginning to see the benefits of much recent work on his game.
Now living in America, Westwood has this year opted to change his normal schedule by skipping the European Tour's Middle East swing and instead focusing on the PGA Tour.
The Englishman finished tied for 47th in last week's Farmers Insurance at Torrey Pines and will now tee it up at the Waste Management Open in Phoenix for the first time.
Renowned as something of a birdie-fest, Westwood is upbeat about his chances, claiming changes he has recently undertaken with coach Sean Foley are now bedding in well.
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"I've got a fair bit of continuity at the moment," he told reporters. "I feel like my game is coming around. There have been a lot of changes, so that's been difficult, sometimes difficult to see which part of your game is wrong when there are so many different things going on.
"But, you know, I feel like I have a grasp of it at the moment and I'm hitting the ball well, as good as I've hit for a while, and I'm rolling the ball on the greens better than I have been for the last two or three years.
"Last week I had a lot of swing thoughts, but I managed to sort of thin them down to a couple, and, you know, go with that this week and see how it goes."
With his short-game having been an area of particular concern for some time, Westwood acknowledged he had been working hard on that facet in recent weeks - especially his putting.
He feels his efforts are bearing fruit and the stats certainly seem to back him up with the 40-year-old finishing an encouraging joint-15th in the putting averages at Torrey Pines.
"I have been working mainly on my putting over the last few weeks, and I feel like I have got key with that," he continued. "I putted nicely last week, made my fair share.
"But I'm continually working on my short game. I always want that to improve and long game, too. I think you get to a certain level where you've got a base from what you're working off, and then you just fine tune it all the time."
"I'm hitting the ball well, as good as I've hit for a while, and I'm rolling the ball on the greens better than I have been for the last two or three years."
Formerly the Phoenix Open, this week's event draws some of the largest crowds on the PGA Tour calendar with the huge galleries providing a rowdy back-drop.
That is especially true of the signature par-3 16th hole where around 20,000 spectators cram into what becomes a stadium in itself and greet the players with cheers or boos depending on their shot.
Westwood is relishing the test that lies ahead, stating: "Yeah, and I played nine holes yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon. I wanted to play the back nine to see some of the holes, 13 and 15, 16, 17, because they seem to be the ones that people talk about.
"It's a nice golf course. I think it gives you a lot of birdie chances, obviously if the weather is like this, you can really get stuck into the golf course."
Of the legendary 16th, he added: "I have obviously seen it on TV before. It seems like good fun. Yeah, it's very different. I'm glad it's only an 8-iron!
"I think it seems to be a great experience out there. Everybody is enjoying themselves. Listen, if I had bought a ticket and I was coming to this tournament, I'd be in 16 drinking beers, too. That's right where I'd be!"