Westwood backed to end drought
Already arguably the best player not to have won a major, Lee Westwood now has the unwelcome statistic to perhaps make it official.
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A share of third place in the Open Championship means Westwood has a record eight top-three finishes in major championships without winning one, the 40-year-old having matched Harry Cooper's total of seven between 1925 and 1938 in last year's Masters.
Westwood took a two-shot lead into the final round at Muirfield only to shoot a closing four-over-par 75, as Phil Mickelson's brilliant 66 saw the American lift the Claret Jug and claim a fifth major title.
It took Mickelson 43 attempts to win his first major - the Open was Westwood's 62nd - but at the age of 43, Mickelson at least offers hope to Westwood that time is still on his side.
The left-hander became the third player over the age of 40 in succession to win the Open after 42-year-old's Darren Clarke and Ernie Els, and 1998 winner Mark O'Meara believes Westwood should not lose hope.
O'Meara, who was 41 when he won the Masters and Open titles in 1998, said: "People expect him to do it and everyone wonders why he hasn't done it, but there is a lot of luck involved too.
"It takes a lot of skill but it takes timing and luck too and sometimes you can do everything possible that you can control and someone else does something a little bit better.
"Unfortunately for Lee a couple of times that's happened to him and a couple of times he hasn't played as well. He is still a young man and has a lot of good years ahead of him.
"I think you can still be a good player in your 40s, especially as good a ball-striker as Lee Westwood is. He has still got three, four, five really good years in him I think.
"You've seen Phil play well at 43 and Lee's strong enough and hits it far enough that he can compete with the guys for sure."
Those sentiments were echoed by Westwood's Ryder Cup team-mate Ian Poulter, who surged through the field with an eagle and three birdies in four holes around the turn.
Poulter's closing 67 saw him post a clubhouse target of one over par that looked tough to match until Mickelson's brilliant finish, the 37-year-old eventually finishing joint third with Westwood.
"Phil is a few years older than Lee is," Poulter said on Sky Sports News. "Guys can still win (majors) in their 40s, Lee has plenty more years left.
"If he keeps putting himself in position he is going to get his hands on one of them for sure, he is too good a player not to, but the pressure is there. Every time he is in position it's difficult because everyone wants him to win and he wants to win even more than anyone else.
"If he keeps working the way he is and keeps improving I'm sure it's going to come."
Westwood's manager Andrew Chandler, himself a former European Tour professional, believes Westwood was nowhere near his best at Muirfield, despite leading by three shots after a birdie on the fifth in the final round.
"Rather than thinking, as some might, that this was one that got away, I prefer the thought that even despite not bringing his A game and possibly not his B either, Lee still managed to get into contention. That takes some doing," Chandler wrote in a blog on his company website.
"What we did see from Lee this week was that his putting and short game have improved immeasurably in the last six months and once he gets his long game back on track, as he most surely will, he will again be pushing for all the game's major honours.
"Finishing third was no consolation for Lee, but he knows what it takes to get up there at a major and there will be plenty more opportunities to claim at least one."