Open 2016: Lee Westwood 'expecting to play well' at Royal Troon

By Ged ScottBBC Sport at Royal Troon
Lee Westwood
Lee Westwood is a previous world number one but is yet to win one of golf's four majors
The 145th Open Championship
Venue: Royal Troon, Ayrshire, Scotland Dates: 14-17 July
Coverage: Highlights on BBC TV and online, listen live on BBC Radio 5 live and follow live text on the BBC Sport website. Click here for full details

Lee Westwood takes his place in the field at the Open at Royal Troon having enjoyed a box seat at both of the first two majors in 2016.

The Nottinghamshire golfer partnered Masters champion Danny Willett on the Sunday at Augusta, then Dustin Johnson on the final day of the US Open at Oakmont.

"I hadn't had those feelings for a while, that buzz and that rush of adrenaline," Westwood said. "It was great to get them back, even if it ended in disappointment."

Westwood fancied by the bookmakers

The 43-year-old stands 39th in the world rankings. He has done well on both previous trips to Troon, finishing tied 10th in 1997 and fourth in 2004, while he came third just down the Ayrshire coast at Turnberry in 2009.

The bookmakers see it differently, rating him a lot higher. He is the 12th shortest price on offer at 40-1, shorter than not only Willett but also four comparatively recent former Open winners - defending champion Zach Johnson, Ernie Els (2002 and 2012) Louis Oosthuizen (2010) and Padraig Harrington (2007 and 2008).

"I feel like I'm back to the stage where I turn up fully expecting to play well, a bit like the way when I was winning for fun a few years back," said Westwood.

"That's down to the way I'm swinging a club, and the way I am mentally. Hiding in a darkened room and cursing my luck is never going to be my style.

"After putting myself in the frame in both majors this year, I'm sure I'll be a bit more relaxed if I can get in the mix at Troon.

"I've been through so many ups and downs now that nothing's ever going to faze me, and I really like the course."

The former world number one continued: "I had a great weekend in 2004 when I finished 67-68 and holed a really long putt on the last on the Sunday from 35 feet. In fact, I've played well there both times the Open has been played there."

Always the bridesmaid?

Danny Willett and Lee Westwood
Lee Westwood finished in a tie for second at the Masters in April, three shots behind playing partner Danny Willett

Westwood has come close to victory so many times in major championships.

His total of nine top-three finishes is comfortably the most of any golfer not to have won one of golf's big four events - the Masters, the US Open, the Open or the US PGA.

And, on five occasions, he has had to stand by and watch mates from Chubby Chandler's same management team - Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Willett - all win their first major.

But, in three successive years, from 2011 to 2013, the Open was won by a fortysomething.

Phil Mickelson was 43 when he won at Muirfield in 2013. Both Westwood's great friend Darren Clarke (at Sandwich in 2011) and Els (at Royal Lytham in 2012) were 42, while Mark O'Meara was 41 when he triumphed at Royal Birkdale in 1998.

Like allowing a good claret time to mature, when it comes to finding the winner of a Claret Jug, turning 40 is clearly not the worst age to be.

Westwood's narrow misses

  • 3rd - 2008 US Open (Torrey Pines): Missed out on a play-off by one shot as Tiger Woods went on to beat Rocco Mediate.
  • T3rd - 2009 Open (Turnberry): Bogeyed the final hole to again miss out by a shot as Stewart Cink beat 58-year-old Tom Watson in a four-hole play-off.
  • T3rd - 2009 US PGA (Hazeltine): Tied with Rory Mcllroy, five shots adrift of winner YE Yang, who was three clear of Tiger Woods.
  • 2nd - 2010 Masters: Carded 13 under par, but still finished three behind Phil Mickelson, who shot 67-67 over the weekend.
  • 2nd - 2010 Open (St Andrews): Finished seven shots behind the runaway winner, South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen.
  • T3rd - 2011 US Open (Congressional): Finished 10 shots behind another easy winner, Rory McIlroy, who was eight shots ahead of Jason Day.
  • T3rd - 2012 Masters: Finished two shots adrift of the play-off, in which Bubba Watson beat Louis Oosthuizen.
  • T3rd - 2013 Open (Muirfield): Led by two shots going to the final round but fell away, finishing behind runner-up Henrik Stenson as champion Phil Mickelson carded a 66.
  • T2nd - 2016 Masters: Danny Willett won by three shots from Westwood and Jordan Spieth after the American's late final-round implosion.

The other Englishmen in Scotland

Luke Donald
Luke Donald gained a place at The Open after Jaco van Zyl chose to withdraw

English golf's big hitters: Along with Westwood (39th), there are currently six other English players inside the world's top 50 all taking up their invites to Royal Troon - Yorkshiremen Willett (ninth) and Matthew Fitzpatrick (43rd), Hampshire's Justin Rose (11th), Bristol's Chris Wood (22nd), Cheltenham's Paul Casey (29th) and Nuneaton's Andy Sullivan (36th).

The old-timers: Buckinghamshire's Luke Donald (15 Open appearances), Swindon's David Howell (13), Surrey's Ross Fisher (eight), Staffordshire's Robert Rock (seven) and London's Anthony Wall (six) have all been familiar figures at the Open over the past two decades.

The under-exposed: London's James Morrison has only played twice, but has performed well each time (tied 23rd in 2012, tied 20th in 2015), while Southport's Tommy Fleetwood is out to better successive missed cuts in 2014 and 2015. Essex's Matt Southgate (2014) and London's Andrew Johnston (2011) both missed the cut in their one previous Open appearance. As for last week's Scottish Open runner-up Tyrrell Hatton, this will be a fifth Open in six years for the former Bucks, Berks & Oxon amateur - but the 24-year-old from Marlow, now up to 68th in the world, is yet to make the cut.

The first-timers: As well as Hampshire amateur Scott Gregory, six English professionals will be making their Open debut - Lancashire's Jack Senior, London's James Heath, Merseyside's Paul Howard, Northamptonshire's Ryan Evans, Watford's Callum Shinkwin and Lincolnshire's Dave Coupland.

We've launched a new BBC Sport newsletter, bringing all the best stories, features and video right to your inbox. You can sign up here.