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Donald, Westwood carry home hopes at British Open
This file photo shows a general view of spectators watching British Open Golf Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes course. More than ever the pressure will be on Englishmen Luke Donald and Lee Westwood when the tournament gets underway at the venue next Thursday. (AFP Photo/Martin Hayhow)

More than ever the pressure will be on Englishmen Luke Donaldand Lee Westwood when the British Open gets underway at Royal Lytham and St Annes next Thursday.

The world No.1 and world No.3 have yet to win a single Major title between them and both are increasingly burdened with their failures as each of the year's four Grand Slam tournaments pass them by.

This time they head to the classic Lancashire links course south of Blackpool in the knowledge that no Englishman has won the Open since Nick Faldo at Muirfield, Scotland in 1992.

No Englishman has won the Open on English soil since Tony Jacklin at Lytham in 1969.

So the pressure is there and Donald for one believes that if he wants to get over that final hurdle he needs to deal with the stress, relax and try to enjoy himself.

Talking of his approach to the Majors he said: "I've realized that I do get a little bit more anxious, a little bit more uptight and I've gotta try and control that, and that's going to kind of be the priority, go out there and try to play with a little bit more freedom, a little bit more fun, and hopefully that's the key to getting off to a better start.

"And once I get off to a better start, I feel like I'm going to be there and have a chance."

So far this year, despite being ranked first in the world for most of the time, Donald's chances at the Majors have been non-existent finishing in a tie for 32nd at The Masters and missing the cut at the US Open.

The same cannot be said for Westwood who came agonisingly close to a first Major title yet again with a tie for third at The Masters and a tie for 10th at the US Open. He now has eight top 10 finishes in the last 12 Majors.

Westwood's chances looked to have taken a blow at the French Open last week when he strained knee and groin muscles while slipping on the way to tee off in the third round.

He was not entered for this week's Scottish Open at Castle Stuart where Donald is the defending champion, seeking help from his physio instead.

The English challenge to match Faldo will also come from in-form world No.9 Justin Rose and Ian Poulter who was runner-up to Padraig Harrington at nearby Royal Birkdale in 2008.

The opposition though will be formidable.

From Ireland come defending champion Darren Clarke, winner in 2007 and 2008 Harrington, world No.2 Rory McIlroy and 2010 US Open winner Graeme McDowell.

South Africa have 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and 2002 Open champion Ernie Els.

Els has been showing signs of getting back to near his best in recent weeks, including a late run at the US Open in San Francisco and at 42 he knows that time is beginning to count against him.

"I was only talking with my caddy the other day that it's been 10 years since I won at Muirfield, and it's been unbelievable," said Els at Castle Stuart.

"I've had chances with '04 coming to mind, also '06 and '07.

"But then there were times I doubted that I would get back to winning another Major. I played well in last month's US Open (finished 9th) and I felt very in control and calm, and I just let my game do the work and like I used to.

"So that's the positive I'm talking about that I really felt mentally and physically very at ease for once, which I haven't felt that way for months."

Then of course there will be the US challenge with Americans having won the last two times the Open was held at Lytham through Tom Lehman in 1996 and David Duval in 2001.

Tiger Woods will once again be the bookies favourite to win what would be for him a fourth British Open after St Andrews (2000 and 2005) and Hoylake (2006), the latter being a course close to and similar to Lytham.

US veterans Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker will also be closely watched as will be the young brigade of Rickie Fowler, Keegan Bradley, Bubba Watson, Hunter Mahan and Matt Kuchnar.

There will, however be no US/British Open double as Webb Simpson, who won at San Francisco's Olympic Club in June has opted out to be with his wife who is expecting the couple's second child.






Posted on Friday, July 13, 2012 @ 13:50:28 JST by admin

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