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Masters 2021: Breaking Jack Nicklaus’ record would be special, says Lee Westwood

Masters 2021: Breaking Jack Nicklaus' record would be special, says Lee Westwood thumbnail
Lee Westwood has son Sam caddying for him at Augusta National this week
Venue: Augusta National Golf Club Date: 8-11 April
Coverage: Live radio commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, Sports Extra and BBC Sounds. Live text commentary on BBC Sport website from first drive to last putt on all four days. Daily highlights on BBC Two. Click for full coverage details

England’s Lee Westwood says it would be a “very special” moment to break Jack Nicklaus’ record and become the oldest player to win the Masters.

Westwood, who turns 48 this month, is looking to win his first major and arrives at Augusta National in form.

Nicklaus was 46 years, two months and 23 days when he claimed a record sixth Green Jacket and 18th major in 1986.

“Jack has always been an inspiration,” said Westwood, who played with Nicklaus during his first Masters in 1997.

“It would be great to break his record. I saw Jack a few weeks ago and I still remember the first time I played this tournament in 1997, I played the final round with Jack.

“I went out on the Saturday night and bought the iconic picture where he’s following the ball into the hole on 17 with his putter. After we played on the Sunday, I said to Jack ‘would you mind signing this picture for me?’

“I still have it to this day, all framed up. He put ‘To Lee, enjoyed our round, best wishes, Jack Nicklaus’. There are very few people you would do that with, he is a legend and arguably the greatest player to ever play the game.

“I always enjoy speaking with Jack and picking his brains and just being in his company, so to have a chance to break one of his records would be very special.”

‘It still sends chills down my spine’

Nicklaus had his son, Jackie, on the bag when he won his final Masters title and former world number one Westwood will also have his son, Sam, caddying for him this week.

“It’s amazing that I am old enough to have my son on the bag and still be competing in these tournaments,” said Westwood, who is playing in his 20th Masters.

“Having Sam here to enjoy the experience with me, I have to close his mouth every now and again when we’re going round, he loves it so much.”

The Englishman finished behind Bryson DeChambeau at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March and the following week was runner-up to Justin Thomas at the Players Championship.

The European Tour’s Race to Dubai champion recuperated after the Players by taking Sam to play 54 holes at Augusta National for the first time.

Westwood finished second at Augusta in 2010 and 2016 and has made the cut 16 times in 19 appearances.

In the 13 Masters between 2008 and 2020, the 47-year-old has had a round in the top 10 on any particular day on 21 occasions. That is three more than his closest rival, five-times winner Tiger Woods.

“I have always loved Augusta National, I still remember the first time I came here like it was yesterday,” added the world number 20.

“It is such a special place, the traditions, you feel fortunate to drive down Magnolia Lane. It is always special the walk over the 11th, down the hill, seeing the 12th in the distance.

“I came here three weeks ago, but even yesterday it sent chills down my spine just to see Amen Corner in the distance.”

On his March trip, Westwood said: “It’s as hard as I’ve seen Augusta play, even when it’s been the week of the Masters.

“It was playing long and the greens were like rock.”

Long’s lucky escape

Meanwhile, Amateur Championship winner Joe Long took a rather different approach in preparation for making his Masters debut this week, one that almost cost him his spot in the first men’s major of the year.

The British amateur, 23, took some time off from practice in South Africa and tore a glute muscle while surfing with a friend.

“I was paddling towards this big wave, couldn’t turn round in time and it just chewed me up basically,” said Long. “It was painful, I’m not going to lie to you.

“But everything happens for a reason and it forced me to take a little break. I certainly won’t be going surfing before any more competitions this year, that’s for sure.”

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