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Westwood Again Pulls A Westwood

GULLANE, SCOTLAND | If there is any justice in the world Lee Westwood would win a major championship. There isn’t and he hasn’t. Shame! Actually, there is not much for the Englishman to be ashamed of when a rival rushes past, barging him to one side, in one of the great final rounds in the history of the Open Championship. Not that that will be much comfort to Westwood, who has now finished second or third on eight occasions in major championships. Never mind Yorick. Alas, poor Westwood. University degrees in Britain are divided into first-, second- and third-class categories and second-class degrees are divided again into 2:1 and 2:2. Students use Cockney rhyming slang to explain which class degree they got. Thus one student, having been asked about his degree, might reply: “I got a Damian,” meaning a first-class degree named after Damian Hurst, the artist. A 2:1 degree is an “Attila” after Attila the Hun, a 2:2 is known as a “Desmond” after the doughty South African clergyman, Desmond Tutu, and a third-class degree is called a “Douglas” after the British politician Douglas Hurd. For those who passed their examinations without being worthy of any numerical accolade, the reward was a “Khyber” as in Khyber Pass. It is time to coin a slang term useful for professional golfers. How about “a Westwood” for a near miss? For example, one player asks another: “How did you do at the British?” The response is: “Westwood,” meaning anywhere from second to fifth. Near the knuckle? Probably. Inaccurate? Not really. Westwood, who has won 40 tournaments worldwide, is Mr. Consistency in major championships without winning one. He is one of the few men in history to have finished second or third in each of the four major championships. To have recorded a “Westwood” therefore and have the achievement named after you is a form of flattery, a distinction. Tiger Woods often seems a complex person with his coterie of friends and business associates who form a circle around him. Ernie Els looks as though he could fall asleep at any moment other than when he is driving a car fast, which is as often as he can. In character, Westwood is straightforward and uncomplicated. Success at golf has made him a multimillionaire who supports Nottingham Forest football team, owns race horses, likes a drink and a gamble. He is an Englishman to his core, the only child of a maths teacher father and a chiropodist mother. Trish Westwood was at work each day when Lee came home from school so it was his grandmother who opened the door to him. They became close. She helped him out financially even when he had started playing on the European Tour and she told him off if he did something she disapproved while playing in a golf tournament. The best example was the time Westwood hit a bad shot and took a frustrated swing at a nearby plant. “She didn’t like that,” Westwood said. When his grandmother died, Westwood admitted his mind was elsewhere other than on his golf for as much as eight weeks. John Westwood is where much of Westwood’s solidity comes from. He had no difficulty in teaching his son in his role as head of maths at the school in Worksop in the middle of England that Lee attended. And he had no difficulty in beating Lee at everything they competed at when Lee was growing up, whether it was golf, the game they both took up together, arm-wrestling or shove ha’penny, a board game played in country pubs. “When he beats me,” John Westwood said, “I want him to deserve it.”


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