AUGUSTA, Ga. — Thirty-five years in the past, Jack Nicklaus received the Masters together with his son, Jackie, caddying for him. It was his sixth inexperienced jacket, and Nicklaus, on the age of 46, turned the oldest Masters champion ever.
On Thursday morning, Lee Westwood — 15 days shy of his forty eighth birthday — will tee it up alongside defending champion Dustin Johnson and U.S. Amateur champion Tyler Strafaci in a quest to interrupt Nicklaus’ file because the oldest man to have a inexperienced jacket slipped over his shoulders. And he’ll do it together with his 19-year-old son, Sam, on his bag.
Westwood has performed in 84 career major championships with out successful one, the longest major-championship drought in the sport. So, his successful the eighty fifth Masters this week would qualify as fairly excessive up the record of magical tales that might emerge from this event by day’s finish Sunday.
“Jack has always been an inspiration the way he played the game, especially his record around here,” Westwood mentioned. “You can’t assist being impressed. There’s a couple of similarities there with age. It can be nice to interrupt his file. I noticed Jack a couple of weeks in the past on the Honda, and I nonetheless bear in mind the primary time I performed this event in 1997.
“I performed the ultimate spherical with Jack, and I knew I used to be enjoying with him on the Sunday, [so] I went out on the Saturday night time and purchased the image, the enduring one the place he’s following the ball into the opening on 17 together with his putter [in the 1986 win]. After we performed on the Sunday … I mentioned to Jack, ‘Would you mind signing this picture for me?’ I nonetheless have it to today all framed up the place he’s put, ‘Lee, enjoyed our round, best wishes, Jack Nicklaus.’
“To have a chance to break one of his records would be very special. It’s amazing that I’m old enough to have my son on the bag and still be competing in these tournaments, and having Sam here to enjoy the experience with me … I have to close his mouth every now and again when we’re going around here, he loves it so much.”
Why not Westwood this week?
Forget his age.
Forget the truth that he by no means has received a major, regardless of ending runner-up in three majors, and posting 12 top-5 and 19 top-10 finishes in majors.
Sergio Garcia, when he received the 2017 Masters, ended a streak of 70 major championships performed with out a win, which was the longest streak at the moment. Westwood would like to observe that plan. And he can.
The Englishman’s efficiency final month in Florida delivered sufficient proof that he can win this week.
He completed runner-up to Bryson DeChambeau in the Arnold Palmer Invitational after which runner-up to Justin Thomas in the Players Championship, going toe-to-toe, blow-for-blow with two of the most effective, strongest gamers in the game.
Westwood known as these two finishes “validation that I’m still good enough at my age to be out here and contending.”
If we’re to consider Westwood, something he does in his career from now’s gravy for him. He at all times has appeared comfy in his personal pores and skin and he doesn’t appear to be involved together with his legacy, whether or not there’s a major championship on his résumé or not.
“As for expectations, I don’t really have any,” Westwood mentioned. “But I don’t really have any at any tournaments I turn up to anymore. I just put the preparation in, hit it off the first tee and try and find it and hit it on the green, and hopefully hit it on the green and have a birdie chance and make a few of those. After that, it’s in the lap of the gods, really.”
Westwood really offers off the vibe that he’s having fun with the scent of the roses — or in the case of this week, the azaleas. The day after he lost to Thomas at TPC Sawgrass, Westwood got here to Augusta on “a lads journey’’ together with his son to play for a few days with a member.
“I’ve always loved Augusta National,” he mentioned. “I saw that it’s my 20th time here, and I still remember the first time I came here like it was yesterday, really. The walk over the 11th down the hill seeing the 12th in the distance, it still sent chills when I came here three weeks ago. Even [in Tuesday’s first practice round] it sent chills down my spine just to see Amen Corner in the distance there. It’s a very special place and to get to share it with Sam was amazing.”
It, in fact, can be much more wonderful if he can do with Sam what Nicklaus did with Jackie 35 years in the past.