Originally written on Taking Bad Schotz  |  Last updated 11/11/14

LA JOLLA, CA - JANUARY 31: Phil Mickelson hits his tee shot on the 12th hole on the South Course at Torrey Pines Golf Course during the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open on January 31, 2010 in La Jolla, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

There’s Phil Mickelson at the U.S. Open. Then there’s Lee Westwood at every major. He’s by far the best player to have never won a major. He now has a record eight top-three finishes without winning one. And all eight have come since 2008. That’s eight in not even six full years, or more than one in every three. He’s had the 54-hole lead twice; in 2010 at the Masters when Mickelson came out on top. And last week at The Open Championship, when again Lefty overcame Westwood’s lead. But this time it was much worse. Not only was Westwood trying to keep up the “Summer of the Brits” but he was doing it at his country’s championship. He had the whole country and the whole U.K. behind him. Playing with Tiger Woods on Saturday, he had the louder cheers and that never happens with the 14-time major champion. He stepped up at the end of the third round, especially with the putter. He hit two clutch back-to-back putts. On sixteen, he made a must-make bogey and on the par-five seventeenth, he hit a birdie to take a two-shot lead that he held after making par on the last. Back in 2010 at Augusta, he had a one-shot lead over a previous two-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson. Now, it was a two-shot lead over a guy who hadn’t won a major since 2008, Tiger Woods, and another who had never won a major, Hunter Mahan. Also, Westwood was paired with the younger, more inexperienced one, Mahan. He was coming off a one-under 70 and was feeling very confident. The first six holes went well. He remained at three-under for the championship. But it started going downhill on the seventh. Bogeys at the next two dropped him to one-under and two-over on the day. He parred the next four and again found the bogey train on the thirteenth. Now he wasn’t in red numbers anymore and was in desperate need of a get-back birdie. Pars at fourteen and fifteen, and a couple holes ahead, Mickelson was making birdie-after-birdie to finish at three-under, putting Westwood three behind with three to play. Again a par-three got to him as he bogeyed the last par-three on sixteen. He couldn’t even birdie the par-five seventeenth and everyone knew the walk down eighteen was going to be much different than he anticipated before the round. He parred the par-four and finished in another top-three at a major at one-over. Westwood has finished in the top-three at every major, proving he has the talent to win on any course in any situation. It comes down to two things with him: the putter and the mentality. The putter again let him down Sunday and even though he said on Saturday that he knew what it took to win a major, he didn’t. He appears to feel the pressure and play much differently on Sundays than Saturdays. Just like McIlroy, he needs to have more confidence when he hits the links. He will compete in the final major of the year in a few weeks at Oak Hill. Two reasons why this may finally be his time: He hasn’t finished outside the top-15 at a major in 2013 and at the PGA since 2008 when he’s made the cut, he’s finished in the top-ten every time. If he can figure out how to consistently make the shorter strokes and be like Tiger between the ears, Westwood should be the favorite, bar none, to win the PGA Championship. -O’Shea


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