Just coming off his first win in twelve years on US soil at the St. Jude Classic on Sunday and after contending in almost every prestigious event in the past year, Lee Westwood is arguably the best player in the world (even though the official world rankings say he’s 3rd) and a favorite to snag the US Open this week.
As I was hanging around by the practice green late this afternoon (hoping to snag an interview with a player), I noticed Westie had just finished up. My perfect chance!
“Excuse me, Mr. Westwood? My name is Stephanie Wei. Congratulations on your win. Do you have two minutes for a few questions? Please?”
“How about one minute? It’ll turn into two minutes, anyway,” he said with a friendly grin.
So, here we go.
Congrats again on your win in Memphis. You’ve had multiple wins internationally, but it’s been 12 years since your last on US soil. Is it something you can check off the bucket list? [Ed.note: I said it jokingly.] How does it feel?
It’s great. I’ve had a lot of chances this year, so it’s nice to finish one off.
How are you feeling about the course this week?
It’s in great condition. It’s firming up all the time. It’s tough, but playing fair and that’s all you can ask for at the US Open.
What are some of the changes you’ve seen with the course since it was last played at Pebble Beach that make it tougher?
I think the 13th, which has been lengthened and makes it a bit harder. You used to hit 9 iron or wedge into it and now you have a 6 or 7 iron. The 9th and 10th [holes] are lengthened as well, which obviously make it harder. A couple of the fairways are cut differently, a bit further to the right now. Like on 6 and 8, there’s no rough to hold it up if you leak it right. I think it’s a harder course than [it was in] 2000.
What are you doing tonight? Anything special to prepare for tomorrow?
I have a corporate outing with my sponsor, UPS.
What are you having for dinner?
Oh, steak probably.
How do you like your steak cooked?
There you have it. I wish I could have asked him to explain why he always gets in contention (aside from being good) and if he thinks that playing less in the US than guys like Ian Poulter puts him at any disadvantage in the big events here. Oh, and of course, if he felt Robert Garrigus’ swamp-ass was a distraction during the playoff last Sunday. I’ll tuck those away for a rainy day.
By the way, I picked Westwood to win for The Masters and I’m going with him again this week.