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Lee Westwood content with second best at Players Championship

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Who’s had a better last two weeks than Lee Westwood?

The 47-year-old Englishman, in the last two PGA Tour events, has finished second both times and bagged $2.649 million.

He didn’t win the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week at Bay Hill, where Bryson DeChambeau edged him by one shot. And he didn’t win Sunday in the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, where Justin Thomas beat him by one shot.

But Westwood walked away with his head held high and his wallet considerably fatter.

“Slightly disappointed that I didn’t win, but you can’t be too wanting after a second-place finish in the Players Championship,’’ Westwood said after shooting a disappointing even-par 72 in Sunday’s final round after taking a two-shot lead into the day. “I’m just having so much fun. Everybody keeps telling me how old I am. I’m 48 in a month’s time, and I’m still out here contending for tournaments and playing in final groups with great players like Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Thomas and people like that. It’s just a joy to be involved and still playing well and being able to contend.’’

It, of course, would have been more joyful to have won. Westwood, who has 44 career wins worldwide, but only two on the PGA Tour (the last coming in 2010), lamented just not having his best stuff Sunday.

Lee Westwood hits out of a bunker between two trees.
Lee Westwood on the 16th hole at The Players Championship.
AP

“I didn’t play my best golf by any stretch of the imagination,’’ Westwood said. “I probably had my ‘C’ game, but I battled it out. I was proud of myself for that. My legs felt a bit heavy, and I felt a little bit lethargic, like I wasn’t swinging as well and I wasn’t striking the ball as well.’’

Westwood bogeyed three holes on the front nine, shooting 1-over, but he still made the turn with a two-shot lead. Thomas, however, lapped him around the turn with a 5-under-par stretch from Nos. 9 through 12.

Westwood on Saturday said the Players Championship is one of the most difficult tournaments in the world to be a front-runner.

“I proved that today, didn’t I?,’’ he said with a sense of humor.

Westwood still walked away with a smile. As much as not winning surely hurt, it’s been an eye-opening stretch of golf for him — his form at its best just in time for the Masters next month.

“What do I take from the two weeks? Just a lot of pride,’’ he said. “These are world-class fields. These are young guys that I’m giving 20, 25 years to most of them, and yeah, I’m still contending. I’m enjoying it. It’s a thrill to be out here and still playing well.’’

What’s next for Westwood?

“I’m going to play Augusta with my son Sam,’’ he said. “Tomorrow’s going to be a good Monday. It’s the first time he’s played there. He’s been there with me years ago, but he’s caddying for me this year in the Masters itself, so I figure I’m taking him to play 36 holes Monday and Tuesday. Be a good lads-and-dads trip. Looking forward to it.’’

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