We might have expected Lee Westwood to falter on Sunday at the PGA Championship, but we didn’t expect him to vent his frustration in 140 characters or less.
It is one thing for Westwood to taint his reputation by a poor performance at the PGA Championship and quite another to do so with an early-morning Twitter rant.
The normally cool, calm and respectful Englishman followed a 76 at Oak Hill on Sunday with a 50-tweet dialogue in the wee hours Monday morning which took his fans, his sponsors and the general golfing world aback.
It was a side of him we have not seen before. But it was a long time coming, 18 years—63 tries to be exact—of playing in majors and never having won one. Included in those performances were five third-place and two second-place finishes.
So close and yet so far. No wonder he finally blew up.
You minions need to live from the inside out rather than the outside in!!!!— Lee Westwood (@WestwoodLee) August 12, 2013
Oh yeah you've gone quite now!!!! Saddo's . what's wrong? Don't like it back you failures?— Lee Westwood (@WestwoodLee) August 12, 2013
I love slagging people back! Had enough of sitting there taking it. Bring it on!— Lee Westwood (@WestwoodLee) August 12, 2013
Oak Hill was not unlike many of those fine performances in majors, as he entered Sunday at three under and just six off the lead. In that way it was not dissimilar to his recent play at the British Open, when he led going into the final day only to shoot a closing 75 and finish in a tie for third.
Once again, he was unable to finish strongly, carding a 76 and ending up down the board in a tie for 33rd and 13 shots behind winner Jason Dufner. It was in keeping with his ranking of 182nd in final-round scoring.
The resulting Twitter rampage occurred at 4:11 a.m. ET and began with his lament that he had grown tired of "sitting there taking it. Bring it on," before later saying he hadn't "chewed up a troll for a good while.”
One of the great things about Westwood has been his very British chivalrous nature. He may be built like a rugby player, but he's always acquitted himself like a gentleman, no matter how difficult the situation.
What we expected him to say after losing yet another chance at the elusive first major title was what he had said after the British Open when he went from a two-shot lead to a four-shot loss to Phil Mickelson. "I’m not too disappointed,” he told the Washington Post. “I don’t really get disappointed with golf anymore.”
Hear, hear, old chap! That’s the way to play it.
Or maybe it isn’t. Maybe what Westwood needed to do was blow off almost 20 years of steam.
Was it a bit distasteful? Yes. Is it forgivable? Most certainly.
And, in fact, Westwood went to Twitter again to apologize just seven hours later.
Sincere apologies to my sponsors and true followers for my earlier comments . It was out of order and out of character ,Westy .— Lee Westwood (@WestwoodLee) August 12, 2013
With 39 wins worldwide, Westwood is way too good a player to be relegated to being the current best golfer not to win a major.
At 40 years old, the window of opportunity to gain a major title may be closing, but we would not want his legacy to rest on a misbegotten Twitter tirade.
Let it instead be that of a great golfer, major title or not.