Despite challenging for both the Masters and Open Championship in 2010 and becoming World No.1 later the same year Lee Westwood is yet to win a major golf tournament and after a not so impressive performance at the 2011 Masters some may question whether he has the ambition and talent to do so.
Up until 2010 Westwood’s career in major tournaments had been disappointing even though he had been in contention at the 2008 U.S Open and had won numerous tournaments on the European Tour and in North America, Asia, Australia and Africa. His career best finish at the Masters in 2010 of second place put him back into contention of a major title yet he was unable to capitalise on his good form and pulled out of competitions at the end of 2010 suffering from injury.
Despite his impressive form in 2010 the most successful year of his career was in 2000 during which he won seven tournaments worldwide and was ranked first of the European Order of Merit. But his success was followed by a significant break from the game after the birth of his son in 2001 which didn’t see him return to the top of the game until he won his 25th worldwide tournament in Germany in 2003. However following his victory he did not return to win again until 2007 where he increased his European Tour wins to 18 but it led some to ask whether after a promising early career Westwood really had the inclination to win major tournaments.
Westwood, who ended Colin Montgomerie’s European dominance back in 2000, moved back into the top 50 golfers in the world following his 2007 return to form and continued to play well over the beginning of 2008 moving himself back into the top 20 in the world rankings. His 2008 season continued to be successful with Westwood finishing tied for eleventh at the Masters before finishing third at the U.S Open; his improved performance setting him up for an equally successful 2009. However after narrowly missing out on becoming the first European in 38 years to win the U.S open it could be argued that Westwood just didn’t have the flair required to win a championship with so much history and this point can be further argued with his two close performances in 2010 at major championships in which he just seemed to crumble under the pressure.
When 2009 came around Westwood was still without a tournament win in nearly two years even though his results had continued to improve, so he was no doubt relieved when he ended his wining drought by comfortably securing the Portugal Masters in October. This win was closely followed by the Dubai World Championship and the Race to Dubai title in November that meant he was ranked first on the European Order of Merit list and named European Golfer of the Year, both for the first time in eight years. His return to winning ways however left him no closer to winning a major championship and once again question marks began to fall over his ability to do so.
Despite the question marks hanging over him Westwood’s dominant performance in the first few rounds at the 2010 Masters set him up for his first ever major win. Going into the last round he held a one shot advantage but began erratically opening up the door for eventual winner Phil Mickleson with him ultimately losing by 3 shots. Despite appearing to fall to pieces on the front nine of the course Westwood still managed a career best finish of second place but undoubtedly he would have wanted to win. His inconsistent last round of the championship appeared to show that Westwood couldn’t cope under the pressure of such a prestigious event and made it seem as if there was an even vaster expanse between Westwood and his first major win.
Westwood continued to have a positive 2010 winning his second ever PGA tournament at the St Jude Classic a week before the U.S Open and finishing second to Louis Oosthuizen at the Open Championship however, he was seven strokes off the lead. Despite good finishes at two of 2010’s major championships Westwood sat out of the PGA Championship due to injury yet he still became World Number One in October 2010 ending the reign of Tiger Woods.
Five times Ryder Cup winner Westwood stayed at No.1 for seventeen weeks before being replaced by Martin Kaymer and remained the only world number one to have not won a major championship. This inability to win a major championship coupled with his age may mean that he never actually manages to do so with it being possible that he has reached the peak of his career. Following his rather average performance at this year’s Masters it may well be time for him to put away the golf clubs and move onto other things however if he really has the passion and determination to continue to work at his game he may just have a chance at securing that so far elusive first major win.