Lee Westwood feels he let down close friend Darren Clark in the recent Ryder Cup. Just don’t expect the Englishman to lose any sleep over his 0-3 performance that did nothing to justify Clarke making the 43-year-old a wild card for his 10th Ryder Cup appearance.
Westwood was a shadow of his former self at Hazeltine. He played so poorly in foursomes that Friday morning that he asked Clarke to bench him for the afternoon session. He then missed a short putt for a halve on the 18th green on Saturday afternoon as he and Danny Willett lost to J.B. Holmes and Ryan Moore in a four-ball match. On Sunday, he lost to Moore despite being 2 up with three to play.
“Obviously I was a captain’s pick and I would have liked to have performed well for him,” Westwood said while preparing for this week’s $3.6 million British Masters, which he won in 2007.
“I rarely lose sleep and people are always going to miss putts. It was a lot of pressure on that situation and just one of those things. I didn’t put a good stroke on it and shoved it a bit and it didn’t go in.”
The Englishman, the most experienced player on the European team, admitted his Friday-morning performance in a losing 5-and-4 effort with Thomas Pieters to Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar forced Clarke to change his plans.
“I was supposed to play Friday afternoon,” Westwood said, “but I played so poorly I said to Darren, ‘somebody else will be more use to you in the four-balls.’ You want to play in the Ryder Cup with your ‘A’ game, and I needed an afternoon on the range. I got my game in pretty good shape and played well on Saturday afternoon and on Sunday.”
Westwood needs one more match to tie Nick Faldo’s European record of 11 Ryder Cup appearances. He only needs three more points to break Faldo’s record of 25. Westwood plans to play in France in two years time before throwing his hat into the ring for the 2020 captaincy.
Andy Sullivan joined Chris Wood and Matthew Fitzpatrick by sticking to the rookie script of refusing to criticize Clarke, even though the Englishman, like Wood and Fitzpatrick, only played two of the five sessions.
“It’s easy to stand and criticize someone for his decisions,” Sullivan said. “I was disappointed not to play obviously and so were many others, but I think it was the right decision to be made and I stand by Darren the whole way.”
Clarke may have lost the 41st Ryder Cup, but his team obviously took on board his “shoulder to shoulder” motto.