Golf-Westwood confident of breaking major duck at British Open

Golf - The 149th Open Championship - Royal St George's, Sandwich, Britain - July 14, 2021 England's Lee Westwood during the practice round REUTERS/Rebecca Naden

SANDWICH, England (Reuters) - It has been a decade since Lee Westwood was at the top of his game and the world rankings but the Englishman sees no reason why he cannot find the missing pieces of the puzzle to become a first-time major champion at this week's British Open.

After sinking to 125th in the world rankings in 2018, Westwood found a second wind to his career when he won his first title in four years at the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa.

Since then, Westwood won again in Abu Dhabi and was crowned the European Tour's order of merit winner in 2020 and remains a shoo-in for a place in Europe's Ryder Cup team.

Having briefly topped the leaderboard before finishing tied-35th at the Scottish Open last weekend, Westwood believes his game is in a good place heading into the final major championship of the year starting Thursday.

"Coming into this week, I've played here twice in the Open Championship, missed the cut both times," Westwood, 48, told a news conference on Wednesday.

"I had it in my head a bit of a mental block that I didn't like the golf course, but played it yesterday and really enjoyed it and loved the way it was set up.

"I'm positive and hoping I can find some form and get into contention. Like all links tournaments, you need a little bit of luck with the weather, and like golf, you need a little bit of luck, you need some good breaks."

At the age of 50, Phil Mickelson became the oldest man to win a major title at the U.S. PGA Championship in May.

Westwood said it was a reminder to the rest of the veterans on the field that a golfer's prime can be extended, thanks to the advances in sports science.

"My generation, mine and Phil's generation, are now reaping the benefits of the hard work for the last 20 years, analysing movements in the swing and working on injury prevention to those parts of the body that get injured," Westwood added.

Westwood has featured in every edition of the British Open since his debut in 1995 and will break the record for major appearances without winning one if he fails on his 88th attempt at Royal St George's.

"That's nice, that record," Westwood said. "It shows I've been a good player for a long, long time. There's not many people who have played in as many major championships as me."

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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