From Westy's remarkable run to how Bryson broke Rory, Alex Perry wraps up the week's talking points in The Slam
Hello. Welcome to this week’s Slam, which will almost certainly just be a 500-word ode to Lee Westwood and Helen Storey.
Before the final round at the Players Championship, Westwood was asked whether or not, should he got on to win, it would be the biggest title of his career.
“Undoubtedly,” he replied.
When pushed to elaborate, he quipped: “It would be the biggest tournament I’ve ever won.”
He may not have held on, but ask him to discuss the secret behind his success and he’ll likely point to his right-hand woman – fiancée and caddie Storey.
Westwood shocked the golf world in 2018 when he split with long-term bagman Billy Foster after a rotten run of form and opted to offer his girlfriend the job. But it paid dividends and in their opening outing together Westwood just missed out on his first title for four years when he lost in a play-off at the Made in Denmark. Two months later he won the Nedbank Challenge – the second biggest of his then 24 European Tour victories – and in January last year he added the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for No 25.
That kicked off a season that would see him win a record-breaking Race to Dubai title.
“At my stage of my career, there’s not a lot a caddie can tell me,” Westwood said when asked about Storey’s influence, and sounding like he’s had to explain himself time and time again.
“But obviously Helen gets me in a fantastic mood out there, and psychologically she can help me and say the things that I need to hear.
“She helps me in that aspect an immeasurable amount.”
Storey – a personal trainer by trade – has undoubtedly helped Westwood an immeasurable amount off the course too. At 47, the Englishman is in the best shape of his life. Of all the bizarre things that have happened over the course of the last year, Westwood posting clips on social media of him smashing it in the gym is right up there.
The reason Westwood was discussing Storey’s impact on his career was, interestingly, due to some comments from Bryson DeChambeau.
The pair went toe-to-toe at Bay Hill last week and DeChambeau, who emerged triumphant at Arnie’s place, explained how Storey is keeping Westwood “steady and level-headed”.
“She’s a rock,” DeChambeau added. “She keeps his mind focused on the right things and she’s been awesome for him. That’s one of his secret weapons.”
I don’t know how Westwood and Storey manage their financial situation, but if she gets him over the line for a maiden major at any point in the coming years, she’ll be worth her weight in gold. Or green. Or claret. You see where I’m going with this…
- RELATED: What’s in Westwood’s bag?
Thought for the day
Remember when Steve Williams was the highest-paid sportsman in New Zealand while winning major after major with Tiger Woods? Helen Storey can’t be far off being the highest-paid sportswoman in the UK, which says a lot more about the respect – and financial investment – given to female athletes in this country than it does Westwood’s resurgence.
JT reigns at Sawgrass
After a patchy and controversial start to 2021, Justin Thomas is back to doing what he does best by winning golf tournaments. And what a way to do it, carding weekend rounds of 64 and 68 at TPC Sawgrass to win the Players for his 14th PGA Tour title.
- RELATED: What’s in JT’s winning bag?
How Bryson broke Rory
This week in ‘Rory McIlroy Opens Up’, the four-time major champion made a remarkable admission about how Bryson DeChambeau’s US Open win affected him.
Asked about how he’s feeling about his game at the moment, McIlroy said: “The slightest change in your swing is going to feel uncomfortable for a while.
“It’s not like it’s that far away. I go back to last September, October where it looked and felt pretty good, so it’s just a matter of not erasing the stuff – I’d still like to keep the speed and what I’ve been able to – but just not make the swings that are producing that speed.”
Rewind. Swing changes?
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t anything to do with what Bryson did at the US Open,” McIlroy explained. “A lot of people saw that and were like, ‘Whoa!’ If this is the way they’re going to set golf courses up in the future, it helps. It really helps.
“The one thing people don’t appreciate is how good Bryson is out of the rough. Not only because of how upright he is but because his short irons are longer than standard, so he can get a little more speed through the rough than us.
“I thought being able to get some more speed is a good thing. To the detriment of my swing, I got there, but I just need to maybe rein it back in a little bit.”
Why do you do this to us, Rors?
Worst shots of the week
Best shots are boring, aren’t they? So here are a couple of pearlers that will make the hackiest of hackers feel better about their game.
It was a day to forget for Bryson DeChambeau, whose final round was summed up by a stone-cold top on the 4th hole that went 140-yards into the drink. (Viewer discretion advised.)
Talking of stone cold, Brendon Todd hit a shank on the one hole you don’t want to hit one on.
His piper almost found the other island in the lake that houses the 17th green. As it was, it just missed it and succumbed to a watery grave.
If you’re wondering what the options are should you somehow land your ball on the other island, you can either re-tee or take a drop, or you can swim out there and play your original ball.
- More from the Players: Hovland involved in bizarre rules snafu – and it was his mum that called it in
- More from the Players: Golf’s most unwanted record almost falls
How would you like to be at TPC Sawgrass next year as a VIP guest of National Club Golfer?
That’s the grand prize up for grabs with the spectacular NCG Top 100s Tour. Get involved. (Even if you don’t win, you’ll have an incredible day out.)