The Open 2015: Westwood recalls his St Andrews debut

Golf News

James Savage caught up with the former world number one ahead of the 2015 Open Championship at St Andrews

The opening tee shot on the Old Course at St Andrews is not one of the most difficult on The Open rota but it can still be a daunting prospect.

Despite the widest of fairways, there is the possibility of going out of bounds. But it takes something out of the ordinary to make that dreaded possibility a reality.

Lee Westwood has witnessed it first hand…

“The first time I played there in a tournament was The Open Championship in 1995.

“I was playing with Gene Sauers and Katsuyoshi Tomori. I can remember being stood on the putting green and the group in front of me was Peter Baker, Ian Baker-Finch and Arnold Palmer. 

“Ian Baker-Finch had won The Open Championship in 1990. He stands on the 1st tee, takes his club back and as he comes down his hat starts to blow off and hits about three inches behind the ball, rolls his hands over it and hits it out of bounds left.

“I’m stood there as a 22-year-old playing in my first Open thinking ’oh my god’. If a former Open Champion has just knocked it out of bounds, what chance have I got?

“It didn’t relax me, it just brought it to the forefront of my mind that it is actually possible to hit it out of bounds.

“Thankfully I managed to steer a two iron somewhere down there  and I think I made a par.”


  • For more on The 2015 Open Championship CLICK HERE

So often the nearly man in Open Championships, Westwood insists the 2015 venue is right up there – not only for the challenge of the course but for the town of St Andrews itself.

“What’s great about The Open at St Andrews is the whole town gets into it and it’s a great atmosphere,” he said.  

“It’s nice to go and have a walk around the town during the event.

“It’s nice to get away from thinking about the golf tournament – get out and have a bit of a chill out.

“It’s one of my favourite Open venues. It ranks in the top-3. Birkdale is a great venue, Lytham I really enjoy. 

“Carnoustie is probably the hardest, all things taken into consideration. If the conditions were the same for every open you played I think Carnoustie would be toughest test – it’s brutal at times  – that’s why they call it Car-nasty.

The Open Championship is the best atmosphere of any tournament that we play.”


  • For more on The 2015 Open Championship CLICK HERE

Westwood insists he has no preference for what the Fife weather will be doing for the 144th Open Championship as it’s all part of the challenge.  

“You sometimes get a nice sunny week where the golf course really dries out or you can get really challenging conditions where there’s wind and rain – that’s how it works with the British summer,” he added.

“I nearly won at Turnberry in 2009 when the weather was pretty ropey. It rained and was quite windy.

“At St Andrews in 2010 when I finished second we had a couple of really nice days and on the Friday the wind was really up.

“And then at Muirfield a couple of years ago it was really nice conditions all week.


  • For more on The 2015 Open Championship CLICK HERE

“That’s one of the great things about The Open Championship – you have to contend with the elements. And they all pose their different challenges.

“If it’s sunny and dry, the golf course gets burnt out and all of a sudden there’s a bunker at 350 yards which wouldn’t ordinarily come into play but because there’s 80 yards of run on the fairway – it’s now in play. 

“Especially if you’re playing downwind, you have to change you whole game plan accordingly. You have to land the ball short of the green. It’s not like target golf in America where you can fly it at the flag and watch it stop.

“You need a lot of imagination whatever the conditions are. If it’s windy and raining you’ve got to battle through it and it becomes a bit of a mental game. But you’ve also got to play all the shots – knock it down, keep it low with the driver. 

“When it gets windy one of the biggest challenges is on the green. When you’re stood over a putt and it’s really blowing it’s vital to have a good solid foundation.”


  • For more on The 2015 Open Championship CLICK HERE
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