UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – Lee Westwood, who hung around the lead into the weekend in six consecutive U.S. Opens before missing the cut last year, says players are in danger of tiring themselves out as they try to figure out Chambers Bay in time for Thursday’s first round.
“I’ll just stick to my same routine,” Westwood said from the busy, brown short-game practice area at Chambers after working on his putting Tuesday.
In contrast to some players who began their U.S. Open preparation last week, Westwood only got here Sunday and doesn’t put much stock in USGA executive director Mike Davis’s assertion that players will have to study every square inch of sod in order to play well.
“If you try and do that leading right up to the tournament you could end up tired out and fatigued by the time you come to play on Thursday,” said Westwood, 42, whose third-place finishes at the 2008 and 2011 U.S. Opens are among his nine top-25s in 15 starts in this tournament. “I find that if you play proper practice rounds—and they have been slow; it’s been three hours for nine holes—you can do enough work.
He added: “It’s like any golf course; you can hit in the wrong spots no matter how well you know it. I’ve been going to Augusta since 1997 and I still think, Oh, God, I’m in the wrong spot. It’s not tight in certain places around here, but you’ve still got to hit in the fairway. You’ve got to play good golf all the way through the bag. And you need a bit of imagination.”
Tuesday morning brought cool, overcast weather that soon burned off and gave way to warm afternoon sunshine, further baking out the course.
In his press conference Tuesday, Tiger Woods spoke of aiming away from some holes, and how some seemingly good shots will end up being bad, and some seemingly terrible shots will end up being kick-in birdies.
Westwood laughed at Rory McIlroy’s assertion that players who can carry their drives 300 yards will have an advantage at this quirky former sand and gravel quarry on the Puget Sound. “You get a huge advantage everywhere, don’t you,” Westwood said, “hitting it that far.”
As for the role of the USGA’s Davis, he added: “The golf course is definitely dried out. I think it’d be a bad idea if they let it get too firm. If that were to happen, you could get to where the difference between a good shot and a bad shot—they’d all end up in the same collection area, which you don’t want, do you? You want a good shot rewarded.”