Lee Westwood is seated at a table at Doral's Bossa Nova Lounge, his golf shoes off. Soccer is being piped in from across the Atlantic. AC Milan against Tottenham Hotspur. In the beautiful game they don't get much bigger. To Westwood's right, two caddies. To his left, a pal, John Newton, who answers to Newt the Beaut. The conversation flows in every direction. The NFL. Motown. The Masters. It's a good table.
"I went to see the Four Tops in Detroit during the  Ryder Cup," says Westwood, which prompts Newton to break into a Temptations song.
"My giiiirl," Newton begins.
"Talkin' 'bout my giiiirl," Westwood answers.
Westwood reaches under the table and grabs his right shoe, revealing a blue orthotic pad he has been testing since a muscle injury forced him out of last year's PGA Championship. The injury interrupted one of the best runs in the majors in recent years but one of repeated near misses. In the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, Westwood finished third, a shot out of the epic Tiger Woods--Rocco Mediate playoff. In '09 Westwood had a pair of third-place ties—at the British Open, where a three-putt bogey at the last left him a shot out of the Stewart Cink--Tom Watson playoff, and at the PGA. Last year at the Masters, Westwood had a share of the 36-hole lead, and even after Phil Mickelson's eagle-eagle-birdie barrage on the back nine on Saturday, he took a one-shot lead into the final round. But Mickelson shot a near-flawless 67, highlighted by a shot off the pine needles at the 13th, to clip Westwood by three. Three months later he was again second in a major, this time to Louis Oosthuizen at the British Open at St. Andrews.
"Nobody really remembers second," Westwood says. "I'll remember who finished second in the Masters, but nobody else will. I've nearly won three or four majors now. It's a fine line, isn't it? It's a shot a round. A very fine line."
Westwood says this matter-of-factly, his face showing neither frustration nor joy. These are the terms of the deal. Only one man gets the green jacket, the claret jug. The others tally their scores and try to forget about the week's lip-outs.
After Mickelson closed out last year's Masters, he walked into the scorer's room and saw the man he had just vanquished. Mickelson's eyes were moist after a long embrace with his cancer-stricken wife, Amy. Westwood was dressed in the red and white of his favorite soccer club, Nottingham Forest.
Mickelson told Westwood that he was playing better than anyone in the world.
"He just said, 'Keep going as you are, keep coming close, and one will roll your way sooner or later. Maybe more than one,' " Westwood recalls.