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Westwood eyes Major thanks to dramatic short game improvement

World No. 2 says having coach Phil Kenyon made a great improvement on his game

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi World No. 2 Lee Westwood believes that an elusive Major success - which he's so far failed to claim in 19 years of asking - could be just around the corner, all thanks to putting coach Phil Kenyon. 

Last month the 38-year-old Englishman, deemed one of the game's most consistent players, won the Thai Championship by seven shots, starting with a career lowest round of 60. It followed on from his second consecutive Nedbank Challenge win in Sun City, South Africa, a fortnight earlier to hand ‘Westy' his 37th professional title. 

Across all European, US and Asian Tours in 2011, he recorded three wins and 11 top-ten finishes in 31 appearances, but in the Majors, a continual sticking point in Westwood's career, he could only muster a 2008 personal best-equalling third in the US Open. 

Having previously been the nearly man in 2010, finishing second in both the Masters and The Open Championship and third in the 2009 PGA Championship, that career-defining Major still awaits the double European Tour order of merit winner (2000, 2009) and three-time European Golfer of the Year (1998, 2000, 2009). 

Westwood said: "The most pleasing thing was, about four weeks prior to that [Sun City and Bangkok], I started working with Phil Kenyon and to shoot 62 round Sun City and then 60 around Amata Spring, you need to start making a few 15-footers, which I've been missing for the last 17 years. 

"Once they start going in and you hole a few you haven't been making, all of a sudden you turn a good round of 65 into a 60 or 62. 

"I think it's very difficult to win a Major without holing a few surprises, or bonuses, that I haven't holed over the last few years. If I can start rolling in a few 25 to 30-footers that I've not been making - that's obviously going to make a massive difference. 

"If you start making putts that you've not been making, it takes pressure off your long game. You can be a bit more aggressive at certain flags. You're not afraid of short-siding yourself, because if you come out of the trap to, say, ten feet, you are confident of holing it. So it does take a lot of pressure off the rest of your game. 

"I've got myself into contention [for the Majors], which is all you can really ask for. You can't focus and make yourself win a Major. All you can do is get yourself into a position and do the right things once you have a chance coming around on the back nine. 

"I've done that probably better than anybody over the last two or three years, given myself a chance. So I'll prepare pretty much the same."