Lee Westwood is confident his age is no barrier to success and believes he can challenge for a first major title on his return to the Masters next year.
The Worksop native pulled off a fine tied fourth-place finish at The Open at Royal Portrush, which secured an automatic invitation for a return to Augusta in April.
Westwood has not made the Masters since 2017, but is confident he still has what it takes not just to stay in touch but actually top leaderboards in the game’s very toughest challenges.
“I’m still working hard on everything and I don’t feel like my game is dropping off; I feel like I’m still capable of winning tournaments,” said Westwood.
“I was starting to moan and groan a little bit coming down the stretch on Sunday.
“The legs started to ache a bit, but no, I’m still pretty fit and don’t feel 46. I love playing golf, and especially around great golf courses like this. So there’s no time like the moment if I keep myself fit.Technology has brought older people into it now; the drivers go further.
I’m still working hard on everything and I don’t feel like my game is dropping off; I feel like I’m still capable of winning tournamentsLee Westwood
“I’ve always been a pretty good driver and iron player. And I’m starting to make a few more putts now.
“So I’m looking forward to the rest of the year and seeing what next year has in store.
“I think I’ve played about 11 events this year, while most people have played about 25 at this stage. So I’m time-management conscious with how many tournaments I play.
“You can’t play 30 events a year when you get to 46, the body won’t let you. You’ve got other priorities. But you can play 20, 22 quality ones and get ready for them.”
While Westwood knows full well the scale of the challenge awaiting at the Masters, he still believes age will not count against him at the prestigious American major tournament.
“Augusta is a very special place, and I played great in the past, I had a chance to win it,” said Westwood.
“Augusta is another one I don’t strictly think it’s a bomber’s paradise, although I think it helps.
“If you’ve played it a lot and you play it well, there’s a lot of repeat winners, I feel like I can get it around there.
“I’ve had a couple of close calls, second a couple of times and third a couple of times, so it will be lovely to go back.”