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Like Hogan, Westwood shares a long, dark period during which the game nearly deserted him. After reaching No. 4 in the world as a pudgy phenom in the late 1990s, his game began to slip, lost in a thicket of swing changes.
"It's frustrating to go out on the range and you don't see any improvement, and after three hours you actually feel worse than you did when you started," Westwood says. "You're looking down all avenues then. You're trying to find an answer, and in the back of your mind is, I was fourth in the world. Why is it suddenly all gone? I asked a lot of people's opinions—almost too many people's opinions. I should have taken control a little bit more."
Westwood nearly quit the game, but his pride wouldn't let him. Stuart Cage, who was the best man at Westwood's wedding, remembers a scene at the 2000 Masters, when Westwood's game was already in retreat.
"He was still exempt, but on the way down," Cage says. "He was on the putting green. Tiger had just played nine holes, and Lee walks over to the 10th tee to join him. Tiger was at the peak of his powers. Ninety-nine percent of the players would have gone in the opposite direction. Lee walked up knowing everybody was going to be watching and Tiger was going to be watching. He walked up to that tee and played. To me, that said a huge amount about Lee's belief in himself."
Woods finished fifth that week, and the following year he completed the Tiger Slam at the Masters. Westwood missed the cut, but the next year he was not exempt in any of the many categories and wasn't invited back. By 2003 he had plummeted to No. 266 in the world.
Cowen compared the fall to a motorcyclist crashing onto the asphalt. "It takes balls to come back from that," he says.
I knew we were in trouble when I saw him with a trainer in the gym a few years ago—that would have been very un-Westy-like in his early days," says countryman Paul Casey.
Westwood's friend is speaking of the golfer whose waistline ballooned to 40 inches before he began working out with a sports scientist, Stephen McGregor, in 2006. "He's simply gone about it and dialed in every aspect of his game," Casey adds. "He always had that killer instinct. [Now] you get a guy who has that killer instinct and a range and a gym at home."
In Worksop, where he still lives, Westwood trains in the morning with McGregor in his home gym, and in the afternoon he and Cowen meet on the driving range that he built on part of the 51 acres he recently purchased behind his house. The workout regimen allows Westwood to better match the movements of a golf swing, or as Cowen says, getting the wrists, elbows and shoulders working in unison.
Many of the exercises focus on core strength and balance, and when Westwood makes a swing, it is a powerful move that he uses to relentlessly pound fairways.