Race to Dubai champion Lee Westwood is confident he can contend for a long-awaited major breakthrough at the 149th Open Championship and avoid an unwanted record in the process.
The 48-year-old would overtake Jay Haas’ record for most major appearances without a victory should he fail to win at Royal St George’s but the 2009 DP World Tour Championship winner believes his game is in a good place despite a disappointing finish at the Scottish Open last week.
“That’s nice, that record, it shows I’ve been a good player for a long, long time,” said the Englishman, who was crowned Race to Dubai champion for the third time last year. “There’s not many people who have played in as many majors as me.
“I feel like I’m playing well and obviously I’ve played well this year. I played well last week. I was in the lead with 26 holes to go, and then a couple of pulls and a double bogey, par, double bogey and couldn’t get any momentum going after that.
“When you are at 14-under with 26 holes to go and 18-under is winning it, you should fancy your chances then, but obviously I didn’t manage to finish that one off. I kind of look back on last week and take the positives out of it, that the form is there and I’m playing well and I’m making birdies.”
The 25-time European Tour winner has featured in every edition of The Open since his debut in 1995 and makes his 88th Major start this week in Sandwich, where he missed the cut on his two previous outings in 2003 and 2011.
“Coming into this week, I’ve played here twice in the Open Championship, missed the cut both times,” he said. “I had it in my head a bit of a mental block that I didn’t like the golf course, but played it yesterday and really enjoyed it and loved the way it was set up.
“I’m positive and hoping I can find some form and get into contention. Like all links tournaments, you need a little bit of luck with the weather, and like golf, you need a little bit of luck, you need some good breaks
“I think everybody missed The Open Championship last year, watching it on TV or playing it. It’s good to be back. It’s a massive championship, my favourite of the year, and I’m delighted to be back and playing well and hopefully having a chance to contend this week.”
Westwood gets the final men’s major of the year under way at 1.09pm alongside Stewart Cink and Martin Kaymer.