Lee Westwood must look at Rory McIlroy with a bit of envy every once in a while. Two decades ago, Westwood was a young talent with nothing but possibilities in front of him. The fact that he now stands in the latter stages of his career with no major championship and/or World Golf Championship is a sad story of missed opportunities, bad luck and great golf.
It could have been so easy. He could have done what McIlroy did at last year’s U.S. Open, break through with a major championship early in his career. McIlroy will know the challenges of the same golf courses that Westwood has played, but he’ll never have to hear the whispers and the doubts about whether or not he’ll ever win the big one. It’s a chapter that will never exist in his career.
Today, Westwood and McIlroy meet in the Final Four of the WGC Accenture Match Play title. This is a tournament win that would be a big step for either player, but you have to imagine it means more to Westwood. There are fewer chances left for Lee. If he’s ever going to become a guy who wins the big ones – it might need to start today.
How fitting, then, that McIlroy stands directly in his path. The two are friends, colleagues and occasional teammates – but today they are competitors.
Even with all his humility and kindness, Westwood must burn to beat the kid. In his heart, he must believe that there are still lessons for McIlroy to learn that extend beyond an elusive major championship.
Each time we see a match like this, we debate whether experience can beat youth. Today will be one of the finer days in Westwood’s career.
Today, the years beat the youth.