Lee Westwood (Getty Images)
Lee Westwood admits his putting prevented him from winning a first Major Championship after finishing tied for third at The Masters Tournament.
The English World Number Three finished with a 68 to end the week two behind Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen, but was arguably the best player in the field from tee to green at Augusta National this week.
“The story of the week is you have got to putt well to win The Masters and I haven't putted well,” said Westwood.
“I came out and missed a two footer on the third inexplicably and that is not the kind of thing that will give you confidence for the rest of the round. So I didn't really make that many putts - the longest I made was ten foot on 18. I made a good one at the right time, but that's not really good enough.
“I've been in there a couple times the last four years and it's a great experience. It's a nice place to be. As a professional golfer, it's the arena you want to play in - when the weather is like this, there is nowhere quite like it, I don't think.
“To shoot four under on the back nine, it's the kind of response you want from yourself.”
While Westwood continues to work towards a first Major after his seventh top-ten finish in three years, three-time Major Champion Padriag Harrington was left to wonder what might have been after a closing 72.
The Irishman threatened to charge into contention with birdies at the second and sixth, but could not take advantage of a series of scoring opportunities on the way in.
“I hit it very close every day,” he said. “I haven't seen any of the golf, but I'd be surprised if people had as many short putts as I had for birdie today. I putted well, I just didn't hole them - I wasn't reading them right.
“It was a good day all the way - I played well, hit it well.
“I take a lot of positives out of the way I played today. I've won three Majors, but that's the most comfortable I've felt through 18 holes in the last round of a Major, and I was in a nice place mentally all day. I putted well all week, chipped well. I did a lot of good things this week.”
Ryder Cup Captain José María Olazábal, himself a two-time Masters winner, will undoubtedly have been delighted to see five Europeans in the top ten.
Westwood’s compatriot Ian Poulter finished in seventh on six under after a 69, although again his round threatened to deliver more at one stage.
“I played lovely on the front nine, got myself in position, and I was always looking at the board to see what the guys in front were doing,” said The Ryder Cup star. “If they got off to a decent start, I think they would have been hard to catch, but they didn't. They weren't really going anywhere, so it got a bit interesting around Amen Corner, I played nicely and hit some good shots.
“Really it’s just such a shame to three-putt the last. It's left a bit of a sour taste in the mouth from what was a really flawless day.
“It's another good week. Playing well at Bay Hill was very, very nice, and I played well again here, so obviously my form I'm carrying right now is good. I feel fit, I feel healthy, and it's now getting stronger for the summer. So it looks like it could be a good summer, as well.”