British Open chances: Can Lee Westwood step up and finally win a major?

Jonathan Wall
Devil Ball Golf

Leading up to the British Open, we'll offer up our thoughts on some of the game's best players and their chances to win at Royal Lytham and St Annes. We continue our coverage with a guy who's still searching for that elusive major championship win.

Lee Westwood

His 2012 so far: If you were to define the first seven months of Westwood's season with one word, it would have to be consistent. With five top-10 finishes and a convincing win at the Nordea Masters, the Englishman's game is trending upward at the moment. He also picked up top-10 finishes at the Masters (3rd) and U.S. Open (T10), but at this point in his career, padding the major championship stats is about as important as making the cut at a European Tour event.

His record at the British Open: His overall record isn't all that impressive (three top-5 finishes and four missed cuts in 12 appearances), but over the last few years, Westwood's turned it around with back-to-back top-3 three finishes in 2010 and 2011. But before you start penciling him in as your pick for this week, don't forget that he missed the cut last year at Royal St. Georges.

Why he could win: It feels like we say this at the start of every major, but Royal Lytham sets up perfectly for Westwood's game. Accurate off the tee? Check. Ability to hit greens in regulation on a consistent basis? Check. Normally you need a hot putter to win a major, but when it comes to the British Open, keeping it in play -- especially at Royal Lytham -- is going to be paramount. There's no question he has the game to take home the Claret Jug this week.

Why he could fall short: Because he has a giant monkey on his back, and with each passing major, that monkey gets a little bigger. With the exception of Tiger Woods, nobody's under more pressure this week than Lee Westwood. Even though he's one of the best golfers in the sport, you have to wonder if the pressure to win a major is getting to him and messing with his mind. He's been oh-so-close on numerous occasions that he's starting to look like Colin Montgomerie 2.0. The window is still open for Westwood, but he needs to make it happen in the near future.

Our take: This is his week. Even with the pressure at an all-time high, Westwood's going to come through at Royal Lytham and get off the major championship schneid. And if he falls short? Well, there's always next month's PGA Championship.

And you? What's your take on Lee Westwood's chances this week?