Lee Westwood of England acknowledges the crowd after making his birdie putt on the 14th green during the third round of the British Open golf Championship at Muirfield in Scotland on Saturday . (REUTERS/Brian Snyder)
GULLANE, Scotland — Lee Westwood was focusing on his dinner rather than the pressure he will be under when he bids to end his long wait for a first major championship in the British Open final round today.
The 40-year-old Briton leads the field by two shots after getting the better of playing partner and world number one Tiger Woods in a gripping third-round showdown at Muirfield.
“Actually 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,” he told a news conference after shooting a round of 70 on Saturday.
“Normally I have pasta just to recharge but I might go the Andy Murray route and have 50 pieces of sushi or something like that,” he added, referring to British tennis player Murray, who won Wimbledon this month and is known to tuck into up to 50 pieces of sushi in one sitting.
Westwood said he would think about winning the Open later in the evening.
“I don’t see anything wrong with that, picture yourself holding the Claret Jug at the final tee and seeing your name at the top of the leaderboard,” he said.
“I didn’t feel any pressure today and felt nice and calm out there and in control of what I was doing.”
Westwood received massive support from the home crowds as he tries to emulate Justin Rose’s U.S. Open victory and give England two successive major champions for the first time since 1909.
“I was interacting with the crowd all day,” he said. “Obviously, trying to give them as much to cheer for as possible. It’s great to play in an Open Championship in front of the crowds that they get here and I always get a good reception.”
The biggest roars of the day came at the par-five fifth hole where Westwood, sporting a tangerine shirt and pristine white trousers, sank a curling 25-foot putt for eagle and the 16th when he sank a 10-foot putt for bogey.
“That was probably the biggest momentum thing I did all day, walk off there with a bogey,” he said.
The former world number one has putted very well all week, an area of his game that has long been seen as a weakness in his attempts to win majors.
“I’ve had lots of chances, sometimes I’ve played well, other times I’ve played not too well,” he said.
“I can’t remember playing that poorly. Obviously I had a chance at Turnberry in 2009 and I messed up a bit.”
Westwood finished tied third at Turnberry and second at St Andrews the following year and he has also been in positions to challenge for the U.S. Masters and U.S. Open.
“I was worrying about what other people were doing and not focusing on my own game,” he said. “But I have had lots of chances. I felt like I played well when I had a chance at the Masters and felt like I had a great round.”
Westwood, who will play with American Hunter Mahan in the final round, believes he knows what it takes to win major.
“It’s just a case of going out there tomorrow and having the confidence in my game, which I’ve got,” he said. “And putting it to the test.”