Westwood tunes up for US Open with playoff win

Only eight men have won a PGA event the week before a major

championship. No one has won on tour, then gone onto victory at a

U.S. Open.

Lee Westwood now gets his chance to be the first do just that.

He gave himself a chance to join the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil

Mickelson, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson when he birdied

the fourth hole of a sudden-death playoff Sunday to beat Swede

Robert Karlsson at the St. Jude Classic.

It was just the Englishman’s second PGA Tour victory and first

since 1998 to go with his 20 career European Tour wins.

“I like being competitive before a major championship, to be

competitive with the tournament and boost my confidence,” Westwood

said.

He became the first European to win in Memphis in the tour’s

third-longest event dating back to 1958. The opportunity to win

came when Robert Garrigus blew a three-stroke lead on the 72nd hole

of regulation with a triple-bogey to set up a three-way playoff.

Garrigus bogeyed the first hole.

Westwood beat Karlsson with a 6-foot birdie putt after the

Swede’s 43-footer came up short, then celebrated by dropping his

putter and pumping his fist in the air. A nice win for someone who

finished second at the Masters, lost a playoff in Dubai and tied

for fourth at the Players Championship earlier this year.

“You try to do the right thing all the time,” Westwood said.

“It doesn’t always work for you. I’ve been in contention a lot,

especially this year, and I suppose I got a break today with other

people’s misfortune but made the most of it and took a

chance.”

He picked up the $1.008 million winner’s check for surviving the

longest sudden-death playoff in Memphis’ history. He shot a

final-round 68-270 total.

Westwood also became the fourth to win in his first visit to

Memphis and first since Dicky Pride in 1994. He came in having

played well, not missing a cut in his 10 starts on the PGA Tour

this year with four top 10s. He had gone 122 starts on the PGA Tour

since winning 1998 in New Orleans.

Karlsson, who won his ninth European Tour victory at Qatar

earlier this year, still is looking for his first PGA title. He

shot a 69, and Garrigus finished with a 71. Karlsson had a chance

to win on the third playoff hole with a par putt from 5 1/2 feet

only to miss.

“I didn’t hit a good putt. You can’t take any chances with too

many good players,” Karlsson said.

Westwood started the final round trailing by three strokes,

birdied three straight holes to grab the lead. But he bogeyed No.

17 after flying an 8-iron over the green. He was preparing to head

off the course when told to stick around behind the 18th green.

“It’s amazing how things pan out,” Westwood said.

Now it’s onto Pebble Beach for Westwood who played 45 holes

combined a week ago before heading to Memphis on a sponsor’s

exemption. Westwood plans to rest up a bit before Thursday’s

tee-time with Ernie Els and Woods after slogging through a heat

index that reached 110 Sunday.

But he will be working on hitting his driver and woods a bit too

after often hitting right into the rough, including on No. 17 where

he flew an 8-iron over the green. He said he didn’t make a big

enough shoulder turn.

“You never stop working, even after a win,” Westwood said.