This week before the Masters tees off, we'll be sizing up the green-jacket chances of many of golf's top players. We begin with a guy that always seems to be a factor in these majors, but is never holding the trophy at the end of them.
Current world ranking: 2
So far this year: A very uneventful year so far for Westwood, who has played in four PGA Tour events and three European Tour events without carding a single top 10. Last week in Houston, Westwood was paired with eventual champion Phil Mickelson, but could never get it going like Lefty, closing with a tie for 30th.
Record at Augusta: Up until last year, you would have had to go back to 1999 to find the only time Westwood finished in the top 10 at Augusta, but in 2010, he nearly won it, finishing alone in second place behind Phil. Westwood was leading after three rounds a season ago, but closed with a final-round 71 as Mickelson put together a brilliant 67 to win by three. Before that, it was a bunch of lackluster performances for Westwood, who has played Saturday and Sunday at Augusta National just five times in the last 11 years.
Why he could win: Because you don't vault to the top in the world without the talent to win a major championship. In the last five majors Westwood teed it up in, he has finished second or third in four of them, showing that he is very close to finally pulling one of these off.
Why he could fall short: For the exact reason why he doesn't own a major championship yet; when the going gets tough, it seems that Westwood falters. In four of the last five majors, where Westwood has finished third or second, he has failed to break 70 in a single Sunday round, showing that he can get there, but closing the door seems tough. Also, he isn't exactly coming into the event red hot, and if his game continues down the path it's on right now, he will hardly be a factor.
Our take: Five months ago Westwood would have been the smart pick here, but he just doesn't have the same momentum he had then, and his scores show it. Tiger Woods has been criticized mightily for his play of late, but Westwood hasn't been that much better, and he's currently ranked higher. Look for a top-20 finish from Lee, but not much more than that.
Your turn, friends. Your take on Westwood's chances at Augusta this year?