Lee Westwood relishing his draw with Dustin Johnson at the Masters

Lee Westwood relishing his draw with world No 1 and reigning champion Dustin Johnson at the Masters… while Englishman, 47, takes inspiration from Jack Nicklaus as he aims to become the oldest winner at Augusta

  • Lee Westwood has been paired with defending champion Dustin Johnson
  • Westwood, 47, cannot wait to get going with the world No 1 at Augusta National
  • Nicklaus was 46 when he claimed his sixth green jacket at Augusta back in 1986 
  • Westwood played with and spoke to the golf icon at the Honda Classic in March
  • The Brit is keen to emulate the Golden Bear and secure his first ever major win

Lee Westwood is relishing a dream first-round draw alongside defending champion Dustin Johnson as he bids to crown his 20th Masters by becoming the tournament’s oldest winner.

‘By putting me with DJ, it shows they must still think I’m a contender!’ said the Englishman, who turns 48 later this month. 

‘I think the back-to-back runner-up finishes I had in Florida last month validated the fact I can still compete for the big prizes, and I always enjoy playing with Dustin. You can’t ask for a better draw than playing alongside the world’s best golfer.’

Lee Westwood is desperate to become the oldest Masters winner of all time this week

Westwood has been paired with world No 1 and reigning champion Dustin Johnson at Augusta

Westwood will have his teenage son Sam as his caddie in what he hopes will prove a good omen. 

When Jack Nicklaus became the oldest Masters winner in 1986 aged 46, he had his son Jackie on the bag. The third member of the group is US Amateur champion Tyler Strafaci.

They will tee off at 10.30am on Thursday (3.30pm UK time), just ahead of Rory McIlroy — who will play alongside Jon Rahm and Xander Schauffele. 

Bryson DeChambeau will not be unleashing his howitzers in the company of Adam Scott and Max Homa until 6.36pm UK time, while Jordan Spieth is in the last group of all at 7pm — partnered with PGA champion Collin Morikawa and last year’s Masters runner-up Cameron Smith.

Westwood also admitted he will take inspiration from his links to Nicklaus as he attempts to break the 18-time major winner’s record of oldest Masters champion. 

Westwood will celebrate his 48th birthday just 13 days after the end of the 85th Masters.

‘Even without that, Jack has always been an inspiration the way he played the game, especially his record around here,’ Westwood said. ‘You can’t help being inspired. There’s a few similarities there with age. It would be great to break his record.

‘I saw Jack a few weeks ago at the Honda (Classic) and I still remember the first time I played this tournament in 1997. 

Westwood is taking inspiration from golf icon Jack Nicklaus, who won in 1986 at the age of 46

‘I played the final round with Jack and I went out on the Saturday night and bought the picture, the iconic one (from 1986) where he’s following the ball into the hole on 17 with his putter.

‘And after we played on the Sunday I had done enough to qualify for the following year, fortunately, and I said to Jack, “Would you mind signing this picture for me?” And I still have it to this day all framed up where he’s put, “Lee, enjoyed our round, best wishes, Jack Nicklaus”.

‘There’s very few people you would do that with. He’s a legend of the game and arguably the greatest player to ever play the game. His record in the major championships and especially Open Championship and here is second to none.

‘I always enjoy speaking with Jack and picking his brains and just being in his company, really. To have a chance to break one of his records would be very special.

Westwood holds the unwanted record of most top-three finishes in a major without a triumph 

‘It’s amazing I’m old enough to have my son on the bag and still be competing in these tournaments, and having Sam to enjoy the experience with me, I have to close his mouth every now and again when we’re going around here; he loves it so much.’

Westwood holds the unwanted record of most top-three finishes in a major (nine) without winning one, with three of those coming at Augusta National. The 47-year-old was runner-up to Phil Mickelson in 2010, third in 2012 – two shots out of the play-off won by Bubba Watson – and runner-up to Danny Willett in 2016.

In total the former world number one has made the cut 16 times in 19 appearances in the Masters and has enjoyed some excellent form in 2021 with runners-up finishes in the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Players Championship.

The former world number one has made the cut 16 times in 19 appearances in the Masters

‘It is validation, really, that I’m still good enough at my age to be out here and contending,’ Westwood added. ‘It’s the culmination of a lot of different things.

‘I’ve obviously been working hard at my game, but I have a good team around me. Steve McGregor, we work on the physical fitness side of the game. Ben Davies, I work on the mental side of the game and that’s made a big difference. Liam James on the swing. Try not to forget anybody. There’s a big team.

‘It’s not just one thing that makes you play well. Golf’s got so many different facets. Phil Kenyon on my putting, as well. I went to the pencil grip about two years now which has made a huge difference.

Westwood played with and spoke to Nicklaus at the Honda Classic tournament in March 

‘When I get under pressure, I feel more comfortable under pressure. All that and playing well has bred confidence.

‘I maybe don’t play as well as often any more, but when I do play well, I tend to contend, and with the work I’ve done on the mental side of the game, I feel a lot more comfortable out there.

‘I heard Jordan Spieth say something last week about he feels comfortable under pressure again and he can cope with it. And that’s how I feel when I do get into the heat of battle and close to the lead. I feel comfortable again.’

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