There’s just something about being in the lead on a Saturday night at a major championship. For some players, the pressure of the final pairing in the last round gets to them; they get restless, with a combination of excitement, anticipation, and at least a little bit of nervousness kicking in. For Lee Westwood, you would think that pressure would be amplified, as the English veteran has come close to winning on several occasions, but has yet to put one away.
Of course, if you ask him yourself, he’d tell you that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“I’m not in a high-pressure situation, because I’m going to go have dinner, and I’m so good with a knife and fork now that I don’t feel any pressure at all,” Westwood joked in an interview with USA Today after his third-round 70 guaranteed him a two-stroke cushion as Sunday’s action begins. “I’ll think about winning the Open Championship tonight at some stage, I’m sure. I don’t see anything wrong with that. […]You picture yourself holding the Claret Jug at the final tee and seeing your name at the top of the leaderboard. When it comes to tee off, I should be in the same frame of mind as I was today.
“I didn’t feel any pressure today and felt nice and calm out there and in control of what I was doing.”
With Tiger Woods and Hunter Mahan, the only two other players under par for the championship at -1, within striking distance, Westwood may need another solid performance like the one he turned in on Saturday if he’s to hoist the Claret Jug. His putting has been on point this week, highlighted by the 50-footer for eagle he drained on the par-5 fifth on Saturday. It bailed him out of some difficult situations, as well, including a stretch from the fifteenth to the seventeenth that he played at level par, with one bogey and one birdie.
It will be interesting to see what the conditions bring for Championship Sunday at Muirfield. Westwood has come so close on so many occasions, though, that in this year of first-time winners, you have to like his chances.