2011 Masters Predictions: Why Lee Westwood Could Earn His First Win at Augusta

Thomas ConroyCorrespondent IApril 4, 2011

HUMBLE, TX - MARCH 31:  Lee Westwood of England hits a drive during the first round of the Shell Houston Open at Redstone Golf Club on March 31, 2011 in Humble, Texas.  (Photo by Michael Cohen/Getty Images)
Michael Cohen/Getty Images

It’s April and time for another journey down Magnolia Drive to Augusta National Golf Club for golf’s first major tournament of the season, The Masters. Ninety-six of the best golfers in the world will tee off on Thursday with aspirations of wearing the elusive green jacket by tourney’s end.

Lee Westwood is in good shape once again to make another run at capturing his first major championship, and his quest will begin at Augusta this week. Since Phil Mickelson won The Masters in 2004, he inherited the title as “the next best player never to have won a major” on the tour. But the law of averages is bound to fall in Westwood’s direction after enduring all of his recent disappointing finishes in the majors.

He fell one stroke short of winning the 2009 U.S. Open title, one putt away from forcing a playoff at the 2008 U.S. Open, and who could forget the ending to last year’s Masters.

On the first day, Westwood opened with a 67, then shared the lead with Ian Poulter at the halfway point and was alone at the top of the leaderboard by one stroke heading into the final day of play. But before he could be fitted for his green jacket, Mickelson played a final round for the ages (who could forget his shot through the trees on 13) that won him another major championship.

Westwood didn’t play badly at Augusta, as all four of his rounds were under par (three were in the sixties), and that should have been enough to get the monkey off his back. Unfortunately, it was Lefty’s major to be had.

Coming into this year’s competition, Westwood’s game is rounding into form and shows no signs of scars from the ending to last year’s Masters. He took two weeks off prior to playing in the Shell Houston Open, as Westwood loves going into a major playing in a competitive tournament and Houston provided a top-flight field. The greens are approximately the same speed as Augusta’s, and his plan is to take the momentum of hitting good shots from the prior week into The Masters.

Westwood understands that Augusta rewards experience and you as a player must stick to your game plan for all four days. You do receive breaks during a course of a round, but you must create your own luck in order to win a major.

Westwood has a good chance of winning The Masters; it’s just a matter of peaking at the right time.