Westwood, Donald, McIlroy come up short in disappointing week for Europe

Monday April 9th, 2012
Lee Westwood shot a final-round 68 and finished two shots out of the playoff.
Robert Beck / SI

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- If the holes at Augusta National were bucket-sized, Lee Westwood might be your Masters champion. As it was, only three players of the 62 who made the cut needed more putts this week than Westwood, who finished tied for third at 8-under-par.
 
It was the seventh top-3 finish in the past 16 majors for the former World No. 1 from England, who continues his quest for that elusive first major.
 
Tee to green Westwood was imperious. No one hit more greens in regulation -- 58 of 72, for an average of 80.56 percent -- but his 128 putts were eight more than champion Bubba Watson and 18 more than runner-up Louis Oosthuizen.
 
"The story of the week is you have got to putt well to win the Masters and I haven't," Westwood said. "The longest I made was 10 feet on 18 but that's not really good enough. I don't feel like giving up just yet."
 
Two other English stars fell short. Ian Poulter finished 5 under, while Justin Rose closed with a 68 to finish 4 under. "My game is close," Rose said. "I'll have plenty of chances in the future."
 
World No. 1 Luke Donald closed with an impressive 68, his best score of the week, but his tie for 32nd means his week was a disappointment. "There is nothing worse than waking up on Sunday knowing that whatever you do it is not going to be good enough," Donald said before the final round. "You probably learn more from not playing well than you do from playing well. The margins are so small at Augusta. That's the difference between majors and normal events. Obviously I've got to work on being able to bring the game that I play at normal tournaments to the majors. I'm getting closer each time. It just takes more and more experience."
 
In a sport where even the best lose more often than they win, grasping at positives in defeat is an oft-heard soliloquy in post-round postmortems. Donald was clinging to the highlights of his Sunday 68, which matched his best at Augusta National. "I'll remember that round hopefully next year, and even Thursday when it comes to the Olympic Club [the venue for June's U.S. Open]," he said. "It took me a while to learn how to win on the U.S. Tour and the European Tour. I think it's the same with majors. It's a different level, and it's just taking me a little bit of time to figure it out."
 
As England's best faded, it was a mixed bag for the Irish. Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington shot 72 to tie for 8th, but was left to rue a slew of missed putts that ended his challenge. Still, this week marked a welcome return to form and gave Harrington his first top-10 in a major since the 2009 PGA Championship.
 
Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell -- winners of the last two U.S. Opens -- were paired together Sunday but were never factors. McIlroy's miserable weekend continued, his Sunday 76 barely bettering his Saturday 77. McDowell fired a 68 to finish at 2 under. "I'd love this tournament to be starting tomorrow because I fancy my chances," McDowell said. "I'd love to put that green jacket on my back."
 
"I'll be back," he added. "As Arnold said." He meant Schwarzenegger, not Palmer.

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