Westwood hopes for major breakthrough at US Open

Bethesda: World number two Lee Westwood has become a master juggler in dealing with his close calls in the majors, but the Briton said everything was in place this week for a U.S. Open run at his first major.

Westwood, twice a runner-up in major championships and three-times a third-place finisher, has been victorious twice on tour this season and is supremely confident heading into the U.S. Open starting Thursday at Congressional.

"I`m hitting the ball very well. I`m driving it pretty long and straight. My iron shots are fairly crisp, which is good coming into a U.S. Open," Westwood told reporters on Monday.

"My preparation has gone well."

Westwood has come agonisingly close to claiming his maiden major, but rather than bear the weight of those disappointments the Englishman prefers to accentuate the positives.

"It`s a fine balancing act and a fine line between when you do get really close to it becoming frustrated but still seeing the positives in it, the fact that you are getting close," Westwood, 38, said.

"And I feel like my game is good enough. And if I just do a few things differently at the right times, then it`ll be the difference between a second (place) and a win.

Westwood has not let the close calls get him down.

"As golfers, if you have a successful year, we maybe win three times a year. That`s about ten percent of the times you play," he said. "So you get used to not winning and being disappointed.

"You learn to try and take the positives out of anything, even when you maybe finish second and you thought you should have won one of these. You try and look at it on the bright side, and I think I`ve probably managed to do that."

Westwood showed his resilience with a great stretch after his third place at the 2008 U.S. Open.

He tied for third at the 2009 British Open, then tied for third in the U.S. PGA championship, and came back in 2010 to finish second in the Masters and second in the British Open.

Westwood said he expects Congressional to be an exacting but fair test and is excited by the challenge.

"It`s probably the toughest test of all four majors," he said of the U.S. Open, given the set-up of fast, firm greens, narrow fairways and thick rough.”

"You just have to be very, very patient and not give any shots away unnecessarily. If you can make double instead of making triple, that`s great. If you can make bogey instead of making double, that`s fantastic.”

Westwood feels in tip-top form after winning the European Tour event in South Korea one week after taking the Asian Tour`s Indonesian Masters title.

Earlier this season, he lost in a playoff at the European PGA Championship to current world number one Luke Donald.

Westwood will be playing his first two rounds with compatriot Donald and Germany`s Martin Kaymer in a grouping of Ryder Cup team mates who happen to be the top three ranked players in the world.

"My confidence is pretty high, and looking forward to this week," said Westwood. "The major championships really now are the most exciting part of the year and the ones I look forward to."

Bureau Report

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