Lee Westwood, who went into this week’s Bridgestone Invitational with a real shot at dislodging Tiger Woods from the world number one slot, now faces spending the next few weeks with his leg propped up on a soft cushion.
Westwood’s second round of the Bridgestone in Ohio was rudely interrupted when a recent calf problem – a ruptured plantaris muscle – flared up again. Westwood struggled through the pain to finish the second round with a seven over par 76.
Doctors have now advised Westwood to rest his injury for at least six weeks, which means he will not appear at Whistling Straits, where he was a 16/1 shot to win the USPGA, behind Woods and Mickelson, both at 8/1.
If Westwood takes the full six weeks out he will be struggling to be ready for his Ryder Cup date, which starts on October 1. If fit, his place in the team is assured.
“My problem is that I have no strength in my right calf, so I can’t hold my weight on my right side in my backswing and then push off it,” he said. “I’d like to be working out to build up my strength but I can’t do that, so my legs feel weak.”
Europe are 8/15 favourites to regain the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor, the Americans are 15/8, and although European captain Colin Montgomerie was enjoying watching Tiger Woods struggle at the Bridgestone, describing him as “not mentally with it”, Westwood’s absence from the European team would outstrip any gains enjoyed by Tiger’s loss of form.
Woods missed the last Ryder Cup as he was recovering from knee surgery, but the Ryder format has never brought the best out of him. Westwood, on the other hand, has been one of Europe’s outstanding performers in recent editions. He didn’t lose a game in 2004 or 2006, although was controversially left on the sidelines for the Saturday morning session in 2008.
Phil Mickelson is 9/4 favourite to win the Bridgestone going into Saturday’s session, one stroke behind the overnight leader Retief Goosen (5/1). Rory McIlroy is 12/1, Paul Casey 14/1.