Our search for a first major champion continues, but Lee Westwood showed at Augusta that it won’t be long before he fills our void. After finishing third in his previous two grand slam events, Lee went one better by finishing runner up to a very impressive Phil Mickelson at the US Masters.
It seemed that fate was smiling more on Phil than Lee during a marvellous final day when Augusta was once again filled with the roars that reverberate around the undulating, pine strewn acres of The National. It was definitely a case of the American winning it rather than the Englishman losing it because Lee can take great heart from his effort to win his own first major after being so close at each of last year’s Open and US PGA Championships.
I know he will be looking forward to the next three at Pebble Beach, St. Andrews and Whistling Straits... and don’t bet against him knocking one of them off. He is definitely one of the world’s best players right now and his play is of such a high standard that bigger and better days are ahead.
What backs up that prediction is that Lee has discovered the best way to prepare for a major. It was no coincidence that Lee came to Augusta early and played a couple of practice rounds without anybody being around. He found a way to get round the course when he was free of any distractions.
Ernie Els finished strongly to claim a place in the top 20 and after two wins from five tournaments in six weeks he will be able to reflect with satisfaction on a job well done. Fellow South African Charl Schwartzel also had a very good first Masters and he will be back many times in the future.
Our four other representatives all missed the cut but what experience for Rory McIlroy, Simon Dyson, Louis Oosthuizen and Chris Wood. Their days in the sun will continue to add up.
Augusta is definitely a very difficult place to play without experience so Charl can be very proud of his efforts while the others will have learned valuable lessons for future visits. It will be good for Simon to get back into the European campaign again so that he can continue his fight for a Ryder Cup place while Chris will benefit from a run of tournaments in more familiar surroundings.
All in all a very good week was had in Georgia and we can look forward to the rest of the summer with even greater confidence and enthusiasm.
Congratulations to Phil on a job well done especially considering what he has been going through off the course with his mother and wife battling against cancer. It was his day, but I definitely feel that Lee’s will follow.