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Wentworth awaits Westwood

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By Ashley Grint

GolfWRX Contributor

The BMW Championship at Wentworth has teed off with many of the biggest names in golf set to take part in the tournament.

World No. 3, Lee Westwood, will be looking to go one better than last year after losing out in a play-off hole to fellow Englishman Luke Donald.

Despite shooting the final three rounds in eight shots fewer than Donald, Westwood had to settle for second place, even though many believe he should have claimed the title himself.

After appearing unable to hold his nerve on No. 18, when a five-foot putt for the championship was squandered, it meant a play-off hole was required. This time it was a combination of both accuracy and water which proved the obstacle, after Westwood over-hit an approach shot to the green, all but gifting the title to Luke Donald.

The elusive UK PGA title once again slipped away from the grasp of the Englishman meaning a 12 month wait until the chance to right the wrong came around.

This year Westwood will be looking for more than victory, he will be seeking retribution. Not only did he lose the tournament last year, he lost the money and perhaps most importantly, the title of “World No. 1”.

With the Wentworth course offering an unparalleled 64 world ranking points to the winner, alongside the €4.5million prize fund; it is easy to see why this major event on the golfing calendar is regularly contested by the world’s best.

Ever since the British PGA Championship settled down in the South-East of England, many of golf’s most famous champions have been victorious. Names such as Olazabal, Ballesteros, Faldo and Montgomerie (three times in a row for the latter), have graced the now famous course and come away victorious.

Yet one name still remains absent from the list, the 2009 Race to Dubai winner, Lee Westwood.

Westwood may have struggled in the Players Championship earlier this month, yet with the likes of Rory McIlroy, Hunter Mahan and Steve Stricker all failing to even make the cut in Florida; at least the Brit finished the four rounds, even if it were in an eventual T61 position.

The Florida “mishap” aside and the form is certainly coming back to the current world number three. With three top five finishes in his last four outings, including victory in Indonesia, Westwood is playing with the freedom and confidence that one Tiger Woods only wishes he could achieve.

The BMW championship is bound to prove a tougher test than the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Golf Masters, yet the winning mentality achieved, following victory in Asia, may prove to be a deciding factor in giving Westwood the edge this weekend.

If the reprisal, potential ranking points, monetary gain and title of BMW PGA Champion were not enough incentives, then add the impending climb up the ladder of the Race to Dubai standings, and suddenly the importance of this weekend’s tournament cannot be over-emphasised.

The Race to Dubai came around in 2009 as a way of preventing young European players moving to the U.S. Tour in search of greater financial rewards. With the top 15 golfers sharing a $10 million prize fund at the end of the season, alongside first place taking home $1.5 million, it is clear that financial gain is certainly accessible on this side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Westwood is currently lying in sixth position, and with four of the five golfers ahead of the 2009 champion set to take part in the lucrative tournament this weekend, the chance to climb up the Race to Dubai ladder will be at the forefront of Westwood’s mind.

The 39 year-old will go in search of his 39th title on Friday, and with last year’s stumble at the finish line still bound to be fresh in his mind, expect a strong challenge this weekend.

 Click here for more discussion in the “Tour Talk” forum.

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GolfWRX is the world's largest and best online golf community. Expert editorial reviews, breaking golf tour and industry news, what to play, how to play and where to play. GolfWRX surrounds consumers throughout the buying, learning and enrichment process from original photographic and video content, to peer to peer advice and camaraderie, to technical how-tos, and more. As the largest online golf community we continue to protect the purity of our members opinions and the platform to voice them. We want to protect the interests of golfers by providing an unbiased platform to feel proud to contribute to for years to come. You can follow GolfWRX on Twitter @GolfWRX and on Facebook.

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Tour News

5 things we learned on Sunday of the 2018 U.S. Open

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Opportunity knocked for so many golfers, yet it was the 2017 champion who seized the moment when it was his. Brooks Koepka fired his second sub-par round of the week on Sunday to separate from playing partner Dustin Johnson, and enter the pantheon of multiple major champions. He became the 7th player to defend his title, joining old-school legends like Willie Anderson and John McDermott, mid-century icons like Ralph Guldahl and Ben Hogan, and the last man to accomplish the feat, Curtis Strange. With that introduction, let’s move to the main event, the 5 things we learned on Sunday at Shinnecock Hills.

5) The USGA gave golf a chance

True to its word, the USGA pulled out all the stops in the wee hours of Sunday morn. The course set-up team ensured that enough water was distributed to putting surfaces, that worthy shots would not be punished. Hole locations were assessed and confirmed, also ensuring that multiple opportunities for success were available. As a result, 15 golfers turned in scores under par of 70, highlighted by Tommy Fleetwood’s 7-under stunner. Although many fans, writers and players were quick to assault the organizers for losing control of the course, the USGA reminded us that it always had control of the conditions at Shinny, and that its only mistake was to soar too close to the sun.

4) Captain America ran out of gas

If Patrick Reed had been able to sign his card on the 9th tee, when he stood 5-under on the day and 1-over for the tournament, he would be in a playoff with the eventual champion as I type. Unfortunate for this year’s Masters champion was that 10 holes remained. Reed promptly bogeyed the 9th, added 3 more bogeys on the inward half, and summoned just one birdie toward the end. His fourth-place finish was his best in a U.S. Open, but knowing that victory was in the cards will sting for a while.

3) DJ and Finau gave it a run

Where to begin? How about this: DJ had four bogeys on Sunday. He totaled that many on Thursday-Friday combined. He had birdies, too, but couldn’t find the game that possessed him over the opening 36 holes. Oddly enough, this type of experience won’t be a setback for the 2016 champion. After all, he came back from a career-killer in 2015, when he 3-whacked his way out of a playoff with Jordan Spieth at Chambers Bay. As for Milton Pouhau Finau, aka Tony, the Utah native had never before been in the final group on any day of a major professional championship. He acquitted himself well, standing even on the day and 3-over for T2 at the 18th tee. Knowing that he needed eagle for a playoff might have taken the final winds from his sails, and he limped home with double bogey and solo third. Looking ahead to the final August playing of the PGA Championship, Bellerive near St. Louis might just be his type of course.

2) Tom Terrific nearly made his own U.S. Open history

I’ll write this cautiously, as I’m certain I would have intimated in the 1980s and 90s that Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood would have been major champions by now. Tommy Fleetwood ought to win one of these things soon. His record-tying 63 was a short putt away from a record-breaking 62. Eight birdies against a single bogey was the stuff of legend, and if only he had trusted that final putt a bit higher on the break … that’s not fair. Fleetwood right now is the fellow to watch at Carnoustie next month. Bet a few quid or bob or whatever on the Southport native, as he should contend for the title.

1) Brooks cooks up a winning broth

It’s easy to look back and see all the great shots that the defending champion hit over the four days of the 2018 U.S. Open, shots that would win him his second consecutive trophy. Remember that 60-feet bomb to save par on Saturday? Shades of Costantino Rocca. How about the approach shots to within mere feet that earned him 5 birdies on Sunday, including a competition-killer on 16? Koepka was the guy we thought Dustin Johnson would be. Perhaps it was the time off for wrist rehabilitation early this season that gave him the burning desire to win. Out for nearly 4 months, Koepka had plenty of time to ponder what he achieved last June in Wisconsin, and what might lay ahead for him. The begged question is, does the most recent, two-time major winner have the game to acquire more of the game’s cherished trophies?

Related: Brooks Koepka’s Winning WITB from the 2018 U.S. Open

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Wednesday’s Photos from the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills

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GolfWRX is live from the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club (par 70; 7,440 yards) in Southhampton, New York. The U.S. Open returns to Shinnecock for the first time since 2004 when Retief Goosen won (he failed to qualify for the 2018 event).

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Phil Mickelson, who has two top-5 finishes at Shinnecock Hills, will seek to fill out his career Grand Slam with a win this week. Also, it’s Tiger Woods’ 10-year anniversary of winning the legendary 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines — that was his most recent major championship victory.

Also in the field are headliners Dustin Johnson (now ranked No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings), Justin Thomas (No. 2), Justin Rose (No. 3), Jon Rahm (No. 4) and Jordan Spieth (No. 5).

Brooks Koepka (No. 9) is the defending champion; he won last year by four shots for his first and only major so far in his career.

Check out our photos from Shinnecock Hills below!

Wednesday’s Galleries

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Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums

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Spotted at Shinnecock: #RVLife, superb staff bags, stellar stampings

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We’re on the famed grounds of Shinnecock Hills Golf Club for the second major of the year. With the U.S. Open returned to such a visually and historically rich venue, it may be a bit tough to focus on equipment.

Nevertheless, we spotted some cool stuff, Tuesday, as the players move ever closer to the second major of th eyear.

Let’s get to the photos.

#RVLife propronent, Jason Day’s putter cover is incredible.

Michael Greller displays an essential caddie skill…

Face of Tiger’s wedge. Do these look like standard TaylorMade MG grooves to you?

Greatest side panel on a bag ever?

Who isn’t happy to see “Woods” on USGA tournament signage?

Shintaro Ban’s unique dot stamping is, well, money.

A look at the Bridgestone U.S. Open staff bag and headcovers.

Kenny Perry: Still gaming R7 irons.

Scott Gregory with some solid wedge stamping.

What is this lead taped and war torn beauty?

All our photos from Tuesday

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums

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