In golf there’s no such thing as ‘deserve’

Were golf a team sport and he had a friendship with Harry Sinden, Lee Westwood, perhaps, would be in better position for a Major title.

For point of reference, Sinden once ruled the Boston Bruins, a hockey team that went decades without winning a Stanley Cup, much to the chagrin of a passionate fan base. Feeling a kinship to his longtime captain, Raymond Bourque, Sinden in March of 2000 told one of hockey’s greatest players that it was time to end a 21-year run with the Bruins. Sinden’s rationale was simple — Bourque deserved to be on a Stanley Cup-winning team before he retired and wouldn’t get that chance with the young and ineffective Bruins.

Though it was at first an unsettling decision in Boston, the eventual trade of Bourque pleased Bruins fans, because in 2000-01, the great defenseman got to lift the Stanley Cup for the first time, as a member of the Colorado Avalanche.

Now, to exit the tangent and connect the dots, this tale is shared to explain the circumstances Westwood finds himself in. Like any world-class athlete, Westwood wants to reach the summit of his profession — and that means a Major championship victory. Bourque wanted the same thing, which meant a Stanley Cup triumph.

But whereas the hockey star got guidance and assistance from Sinden, Westwood has no such luxury. You can’t be traded into a green jacket or claret jug. You have to earn it, all by yourself.

Thus far, it’s been a futile chase for Westwood. Though at 39 he is an accomplished professional, what with 22 European PGA Tour wins and a former hold on the No 1 ranking, the Englishman has not earned a victory at the Masters, the US Open, the British Open, nor the US PGA.

Oh, sure, he’s been close — six times he’s been second or third in a Major — but Westwood is following more in the footsteps of Colin Montgomerie than, oh, say Nick Faldo or Tony Jacklin, just to name two other Brits who always felt they had the game to win a Major but couldn’t actually feel whole until they

actually did it.

The inability to win any of his previous 57 tries in the Majors has been the cliché of a storyline surrounding Westwood in the days leading up to the 141st British Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes. Gaining equal space on the billboard is Luke Donald, 0-for-36 in the Majors, and it gives British golf journalists a hard-to-miss storyline. Not only are they ranked first (Donald) and third (Westwood), but they are Englishmen playing on home soil in front of ardent supporters, so the pressure is on, you might say. Or the time is right, perhaps.

Then again, there’s another view of the situation that is worth pursuing. That is: Who says they are entitled to win a Major? Sure, they are wonderfully talented players, but Westwood and Donald serve as reminders that the game owes nothing to anyone, most of all a victory in an elite championship. We could debate the topic for days and wonder aloud how it is that Mike Weir and Michael Campbell have won Major titles in Westwood’s era, though neither is half the player the Englishman is. And that’s not to mention Ben Curtis or Shaun Micheel, YE Yang or Rich Bee.

However, Westwood and Donald being without Majors is not disconcerting. On the American sports landscape, there’s no shortage of iconic figures who never realised the ultimate — World Series wins eluded Ted Williams and Ernie Banks, Dan Marino never won a Super Bowl, nor did Charles Barkley feel the joy of an NBA title.

Like Westwood being without a Major, it doesn’t seem fair.

Then again, “fair” has nothing to do with sports. If Westwood concludes his career without ever having won a Major, it could be that he wasn’t quite good enough. No shame in that, either.

Just chalk it up as another chapter to the great mysteries of sports.

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