Leading up to the PGA Championship, we'll offer up our thoughts on some of the game's best players and their chances to win at Kiawah Island's Ocean Course. We continue with an Englishman who's desperate to add a major championship victory to his already impressive resume.
His 2012 so far: Up until the T-10 finish at the U.S. Open, Westwood was having another solid season: 1 win, 5 top-5 finishes and 3 top 20s. But over the last month-plus, his game all but disappeared. To put Westwood's struggles into perspective for you, his best finish in his last three starts is a T-40 at the Alstom Open de France. So, yeah, he's been struggling a bit. His game officially hit rock-bottom over the weekend at Firestone when he posted 11-over 81 in the third round.
His record at the PGA Championship: If you look at Westwood's last three starts (T-3, DNP, T-8), he looks like a guy who's primed for a big week at the PGA Championship. But let's take a look at the bigger picture here: Westwood's missed more cuts at the PGA (four) than any major he's played in his career. Not only that, he's only posted two top-10 finishes in 14 career starts. His game has improved over the years, so you have to believe his early career struggles have to be taken out of the equation; but looking at his overall body of work, his finishes don't paint a pretty picture.
Why he could win: Why not? I know that's a rhetorical question, but Westwood certainly has the game to win a major. This has been a long, crazy year and while he's not exactly clicking on all cylinders, this would seem like the perfect place for him to finally win his first major. Nobody is mentioning his name this week, and everyone wrote him off after the 81 at the Bridgestone. Assuming he can find some magic for four days, he has more than enough game to take down the field.
Why he could fall short: How about 81 strokes at the Bridgestone? I'm pretty sure that's reason enough to pass on Westwood this week. He's played well at the PGA Championship in recent years, but this time around is different. Westwood's game is unpredictable at the moment, to the point that you have to wonder if he'll be a 36-hole cut casualty.
Our take: Westwood has been our pick to win every major this year, but the time has officially come to cut bait ... at least for this week. His game has been trending downward over the last month and when you're going up against a course that requires you to be long, accurate and have a deadly short game, you can't show up with sub-par swing. Posting a top-25 would be an accomplishment this week.
And you? What's your take on Lee Westwood's chances this week?