Lee Westwood embraces pressure as he aims to become oldest Masters winner

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David Westin, The Augusta Chronicle
·2 min read
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AUGUSTA, Ga. — There are interesting anniversaries in play and an uncanny similarity as Lee Westwood seeks to break Jack Nicklaus’ record as the oldest Masters Tournament champion.

If the Englishman does it, it would come on the 35th anniversary of Nicklaus winning the Masters at age 46. This is the 20th Masters for Westwood, who turns 48 on April 24.

And, in a coincidence, when Nicklaus won the 1986 Masters, he had his son Jack II on his bag. Westwood’s son Sam, 19, will be carrying the bag for his father for the first time in the Masters this week.

“Even without that (connection, of having his son on the bag), Jack has always been an inspiration the way he played the game, especially his record around here,” Westwood said on Tuesday. “You can’t help being inspired. There’s a few similarities there with age. It would be great to break his record.”

There’s no question Westwood can do it. He won the European Tour’s Race to Dubai season-long points title last year, has a stellar record in the Masters—two runner-up finishes among his six top-10s—and is in fine form with back-to-back runner-up finishes in the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Players Championship in March.

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A 25-time winner on the European Tour, Westwood is ranked No. 20 in the world this week. He was the world’s top-ranked player for 22 weeks in 2009-2010.

“Maybe I don’t play as well as often anymore, but when I do play well, I tend to contend, and, you know, with the work I’ve done on the mental side of the game, I feel a lot more comfortable out there,” Westwood said.

“I heard Jordan Spieth say something last week about he feels comfortable under pressure again and he’s enjoying being under pressure and he can cope with it,” Westwood said. “And that’s how I feel when I do get into the heat of battle and close to the lead; I feel comfortable again. That’s a big part of it too, I think.”

If Westwood does win this week, he will not only be the oldest champion but he will set a record for the most attempts before finally slipping on the green jacket. Sergio Garcia has the record at 19, set in 2017.

“Well, I’ve always loved Augusta National,” Westwood said. “I saw that it’s my 20th time here, and I still remember the first time I came here like it was yesterday, really. It’s such a special place, traditions. And you feel fortunate to drive down Magnolia Lane, and it’s always special.

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Jack Nicklaus
Jack Nicklaus