Blog: Can Lee Westwood still win a major? Yes, but...

England's Lee Westwood on the 5th tee during the second round of the 144th Open Championship at The Old Course on July 17, 2015 in St Andrews, Fife.''17 July 2015. Picture by Jane Barlow.''� Jane Barlow 2015 {all rights reserved}'janebarlowphotography@gmail.com'm: 07870 152324
England's Lee Westwood on the 5th tee during the second round of the 144th Open Championship at The Old Course on July 17, 2015 in St Andrews, Fife.''17 July 2015. Picture by Jane Barlow.''� Jane Barlow 2015 {all rights reserved}'janebarlowphotography@gmail.com'm: 07870 152324

Lee Westwood is the 35th best golfer in the world, according to the current world rankings.

It’s almost five years since he became the number one ranked player on the planet.

And while he’s slipped down that leaderboard, his popularity doesn’t appear to be waning.

At St Andrews there were still healthy crowds following his every move.

Fans, with varying accents, in English and foreign tongues, called out their support as he strode past.

There might not have been the roars around the greens and tee boxes that have accompanied him in previous Open Championships, but a number of factors contributed to that.

He was never truly in contention, mainly thanks to the three bogeys on the final three holes on Thursday.

Westwood didn’t put together a string of birdies, the kind of charge that shows momentum, and brings attention, more spectators and more noise to the side of the fairways.

And as storied and wonderful as it is, St Andrews doesn’t lend itself to huge noise.

The design of the Old Course means that quite often, the paying public are standing a fair distance from the putting surface.

The greens aren’t surrounded on all sides by banks of spectators, packed in six or seven deep, like at some of the country’s grandest venues.

It was an intriguing Open, and the atmosphere reflected that, it wasn’t raucous by any stretch of the imagination.

There was tension all over the course, particularly in the latter stages.

But for those religiously following Westwood around, like one chap in a Nottingham Forest shirt, the overriding feeling will have been resignation.

Another chance to win a major has passed him by.

It was his 70th attempt to land the one accolade that has thus far eluded him.

Naysayers will continue to throw the same old slurs around, questioning his putting, his desire, using the term choker.

The putter has let him down in the past, he insists it wouldn’t be the end of the world if he didn’t win one, and it’s hard to argue that he hasn’t let glorious opportunities slip away.

However it’s clear, from his pre-tournament comments to the Express, that golf isn’t the only thing on the 42-year-old’s mind right now.

“There has been a lot going on and golf has not been a priority of late. I haven’t been able to do the practice and preparation I’d have liked because I’ve had other priorities,” he explained

“I’m fairly blase about golf at the moment really.”

The Open was only his third tournament since May.

And if something is amiss away from the course then this was never going to be his major.

He’s proven, almost ad nauseam, that he can get into positions to contend for golf’s biggest prizes.

The talent has been there for quite some time.

He looks fit and trim, and seems to be taking his strength and conditioning as seriously as when he became world number one.

Age isn’t yet a barrier for this particular ambition, his good friend and ISM stablemate Darren Clarke proved that when he won The Open at 42.

Time isn’t on Westwood’s side, and you’d have to think that if it’s going to happen at all, it will have to be in the next two to three years.

To come out on top against young guns like Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, Westwood will have to put together four special rounds and be at the absolute top of his game – physically and mentally.

The stars need to align, the putts will need to roll in from everywhere, he’ll need that little bit of luck, and golf will need to be a priority again.

If those things all come together, Westwood will win a major.

If not? Then he won’t win a major, and I don’t think he’ll lose a great deal of sleep.

There are more important things in life and maybe we should applaud a sportsman for having some perspective.

It’s only a game. A frustrating, exhilarating game with sensational riches to reward the very best.

But still, only a game.