With Victory in Memphis, Lee Westwood Makes Case To Be U.S. Open Favorite

For once, Lee Westwood was the beneficiary of someone else imploding down the stretch. Westwood sat in the clubhouse on Sunday down three strokes, but ended up in a three-way playoff after Robert Garrigus carded a triple-bogey on the last hole to create the extra-hole scenario. Garrigus bogeyed the first extra hole, leading to a two-way playoff between Westwood and Robert Karlsson. Westwood took the St. Jude Classic with a birdie on the fourth playoff hole. It's just his second win on the PGA Tour and the first since 1998. ↵
↵⇥"It's definitely nice to win again. Nobody likes negative questions when you try to be positive all the time. ↵⇥

↵⇥"Golf is a funny game. Sometimes it gives. Sometimes it takes away." ↵⇥

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↵Golf has been taking away from Westwood for a while. Recognized as perhaps the best player in the world without a major title, Westwood had just two wins since the 2007 season, coming in late 2009 in the Portugal Masters and the Dubai World Championship. He does, however, have one heck of a track record in the recent majors. So does his first win in the United States in 12 years make him the favorite heading into the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach? It should. ↵

↵Sure, Tiger Woods is the favorite at any event he plays, and yes, Woods has a history of fantastic play at Pebble Beach. But Woods hasn't exactly been the old Tiger Woods this season, so if he's not the favorite, why shouldn't it be Westwood? ↵

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↵The Englishman has three straight top-three finishes at major championships, finishing tied for third in the 2009 Open Championship and PGA Championship to go with his second-place finish at this year's Masters. He placed 23rd at the 2009 U.S. Open – a top-25 finish but far from contention – but finished third in 2008, his best-ever finish in the event. ↵

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↵Now that Westwood finally has another win on American soil, he's headed to Pebble Beach beaming with confidence. Could it be his time to finally grab that major for his illustrious trophy case? ↵

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↵If he does – and how's this for serendipity for you – he'll have to do it head-to-head with the world's best. Westwood is paired with Woods and Ernie Els for the first two rounds. Methinks the galleries could be pretty big for that group, so it will be interesting to see how Westwood handles the added pressure in the early rounds. That said, Westwood was paired with Woods in the early rounds of The Open Championship last year when he finished third. Woods missed the cut. ↵

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↵Bodog has Westwood at 2/1 odds with just two golfers – Woods and reigning Masters champion Phil Mickelson – ahead of him at 11/8. Yet while Westwood may have his own personal history working for him, he has U.S. Open history working against him. The last Englishman – heck, the last European – to win the U.S. Open was Tony Jacklin in 1970. There have been just seven trophies since then given out to non-American players. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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