World Number Three Lee Westwood is relishing the prospect of facing up to the “mental challenge” posed by the Olympic Club at this week’s US Open Championship.
Westwood is confident of breaking his Major drought in San Francisco, where he will play the first two rounds in the company of the two men above him in the Official World Golf Ranking, his compatriot Luke Donald and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy.
The 39 year old arrives at the second Major of the season in fine fettle, having cruised to the Nordea Masters title by five strokes last week to record his 22nd European Tour victory.
But Westwood’s 19 under par aggregate winning total in Sweden is unlikely to be repeated over the Lakes Course, which he feels will present a fierce test this week.
Westwood said: “I like a tough test. I’ve won tournaments where 24 under has been required, and I’ve won tournaments which have been relatively high scoring.
“I would prefer high scoring, where par means something. I think it’s nice for the galleries coming to see us make pars and look pretty pleased with ourselves, so I don’t mind this kind of mental challenge at all.”
As well as the difficulties posed by the course, Westwood is also fighting the effects of jetlag.
With his press conference taking place at 4pm local time in San Francisco, Westwood noted that it was past midnight back in his native country.
But that will not prevent him from launching a bold bid to win the US Open Championship, a tournament which many keen observers feel is best suited to Westwood’s ball-striking strengths.
He said: “I’m a bit jetlagged, my body is starting to shut off a little bit now. It’s quarter past midnight at home. But it’s just one of those things. I play all around the world and contend with time severe time changes. We go and play in Shanghai and Singapore and places like that, and it doesn't take too long to get over it – normally two or three days at most. So by Thursday, it will be fine. Certainly finishing on Saturday last week was a big advantage.”
Despite what is at stake this week, Westwood is expecting a good deal of camaraderie when the world’s three highest ranked players tee up at 1.29pm local time on Thursday afternoon.
He said: “I played a practice round with Rory today, and I can’t imagine it’ll be any different when we play on Thursday. I also get along with Luke, I partnered with him in The Ryder Cup. So it’s a good group to be in. We’ll all enjoy it, I would imagine.
“You’ve got to play with somebody, so you might as well play with a couple of mates. It’s nice to play with people you know, and people you’ve got something in common with.
“I don’t think we’ll help each other, but we’ll get on and try and have a bit of fun out there. Playing golf for a living, it’s not a bad job. We’ll be serious because it’s the first round of the US Open, but we’ll try and enjoy it as well.”