He wasn’t able to get over the finish line during the PGA Championship, but Lee Westwood’s performance still did enough to shed light on a career that’s lasted nearly three decades. The English golfer has been good for a long time, but Westwood is often defined by what he hasn’t accomplished as much as by what he has.
The 47-year-old has found a way to view it all with a healthy perspective, which has helped him find a renaissance moment in his forties. Most golfers would be considering retirement by now, but Westwood is enjoying himself too much to say goodbye right now.
Lee Westwood’s golf career has been a rollercoaster ride
By most metrics, Lee Westwood has had a successful career. According to ESPN‘s all-time money list, he’s made over $23 million since going pro in 1993. What he doesn’t have, however, is the spectacular flashbulb moments that cemented him as one of the great golfers of his era.
The only consistent thing about Westwood’s game has been its inconsistency. At the start of the century, he was a staple in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings. But he fell out of the top 100 in less than a year. (This happened partly because he took an extended break after the birth of his son.)
Westwood worked his way to the No. 1 ranking again in 2010 and stayed in the top 10 for three years afterward. His best performances have never coincided with the biggest stages. He’s won 46 tournaments, but none of the victories came in major tournaments.
Westwood has come agonizingly short of glory three times. He finished in second place at the 2010 Masters and Open Championship and again was runner-up at the 2016 Masters. In both Masters, Westwood had a lead at some point in the final round. By 2018, he’d fallen all the way down to 125th in the rankings.
Given his age, it would be fair to assume that Westwood would never be able to reach that level again. But he produced another chance at greatness at the age of 47.
Westwood had an exciting PGA Championship but came up short
Westwood returned to prominence in this year’s Players Championship. He led the pack in the second and third round and entered the final day with a two-stroke lead over Bryson DeChambeau. Westwood bogeyed the 17th hole, giving the opportunity to Justin Thomas to grab a lead he wouldn’t relinquish. Westwood finished second, one stroke away from the champion.
The tournament was indicative of Westwood’s game: He’s capable of great patches of play, but they never last long enough for him to win any of the most significant tournaments. The lack of a major title can be a source of frustration, but Westwood insists he’s more than happy with his lot in life.
Lee Westwood is relaxed and satisfied with his life’s work
Westwood’s content stems from his refusal to draw a comparison between his past play and current standing. He told the Irish Examiner:
“I don’t like to compare the Lee Westwood of 10 years ago or 20 years ago to the Lee Westwood of today. I’m certainly having as much fun on the golf course as I’ve ever had … I was a pretty good player 10 years ago. I was world No. 1, wasn’t I? I’m a different person, so it wouldn’t be fair on me to judge myself against that person.”Lee Westwood on his golf career
Westwood’s outlook on life, developed with the help of a psychologist he’s seen for years, is something we should all aim to find. Enjoy what you have while you have it and don’t stress about things you can’t control. He told Golf Digest, “I don’t treat [golf] as seriously. I probably have the attitude of 20-year-old Lee Westwood.”
The British athlete explained that he started worrying about what others thought and take things too seriously in his thirties. “Now I just sort of stand up and hit it, and if it goes well, it goes well. And it generally does,” Westwood commented.
Given his continual ups and downs, it’s tough to say how the rest of Westwood’s career will play out. Time is undefeated. He won’t be remembered as one of the best golfers of all time, but that’s more than fine. He should be proud of what he’s done.