From junior champion to World No. 1: How Westwood found success by keeping things familiar

Golf News

There have been a number of constants in Lee Westwood's 23 years on tour, from his clubs to his swing tips. He sat down with Mark Townsend to reveal all

On preparing for a tournament…

A lot of it is about learning the speed of the greens and the rough around them. At The Open I will practise a lot around the greens. Otherwise it is much the same each week, I’ll turn up on the Monday night or Tuesday morning and then play in the pro-am on the Wednesday.

On the range I’ll hit sand iron, skip a club to the 9 and then down to the lowest iron before the woods. My last shots on the range will be something like a 5 or 6-iron which will help me to slow the swing down again.

On his short game…

Some amateurs really struggle with their chipping and people use too much wrists. Try and keep it as simple as possible, watch Jason Day. If you can get rid of that lever of the wrist it would really help. You can still get a lot of spin, people think you get spin from trapping it and using a lot of wrist, it actually doesn’t. Spin comes from releasing the club under the ball with the ball coming into contact with the grooves as much as possible.

Jason Day

People talk about rhythm and how to keep finding it. It is important to get all your weight going into the back of the ball, if you get ahead of it you can only square the clubface by backing yourself up and you can’t hit it a long way.

Practise hitting a few with your feet together, tee it up a bit and make some smooth swings and it will help with your rhythm.

On how golfers are evolving…

Ever since Tiger came on the scene people have worked out more and more in the gym. My trainer works with Jason Day and they work on clubhead speed a lot. Graeme McDowell also works with him and he has added 12 yards this year – and they will practise swinging with heavy weights in one arm.

I have done all sorts to try and get an edge including using force plates and having sensors all over my body to see if I’m moving efficiently.

Tiger has changed the game, when he started he called himself an athlete and people laughed. Now all the young kids are athletes. They might not all be big but they are wiry and fast, even the small kids can hit it 350 yards and a lot of that is down to Tiger.

On how to address the ball…

I’ll set up with my weight going through my laces. The best way to find that out is to lay a club across your hips, stand straight and bend from the waist. Then when you feel yourself going on to our toes, soften your knees and let your arms hang naturally as that’s where they will want to come back to.

Some stand too far away from it and they will hit across it or out of the toe, that is one of my faults.

Get nice and balanced like a goalkeeper ready to save a penalty and then feel like your legs are resisting.

I’m not working with a coach at the moment. I’ve had lessons for a long time now and I’ve been taught all there is to know so I’m pretty good at being analytical and see what works for me. I’m great as long as it’s my swing, when I look at others it takes me a while to work out what’s going on.

I have three or four swing thoughts that I try and stick to. If the first doesn’t work I’ll go to the next one, sometimes you just can’t feel it so I will have to keep going until it works.

On his greatest ever shot…

It was at Turnberry at the 72nd hole of the 2009 Open. I found the fairway trap down the left and I hit a 9-iron 172 yards over a steep lip with a high cut to the front edge. Unfortunately I followed it with the worst shot, knocking it eight feet past and I missed the return to come up one short of the play-off.

Lee Westwood Turnberry

 

On amateur golfers’ biggest faults…

The first is not hitting the right club. You have to have a certain level of ability to know how far your clubs are going but they don’t hit enough club a lot of the time. At old-style courses the trouble is at the front generally.

The second one is to play too much loft around the greens, Jack Nicklaus was a great one for getting the ball on the green as quickly as possible with some top spin.

On his dream fourball…

My dream fourball would be Seve, Arnold Palmer and Ben Hogan. I played with two of them and they were very charismatic and Hogan always had that mystery about him with that amazing swing.

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