LES PAYNE: Worksop’s Lee will always be a major figure for us

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WILL he win a golf major before he is no longer (and I quote) Worksop’s Lee Westwood?

As you’ve probably heard, he’s swapping the leafy, if rather damp, lanes of North Notts for the somewhat sunnier climes of Florida. Off he and the family go around December.

We’ve always claimed him as “one of ours”. This newspaper even had a Worksop branch office at one time.

Always we’d lob in the “Worksop’s ...” prefix just in case anyone had forgotten.

Always good to have someone from anywhere in our region at the top of their sport. Certainly there’s not been many from Worksop. Unless you count Graham Taylor who did become England manager.

Never saw him referred to as Worksop’s Graham Taylor, however.

Anyway, back to golf and will Worksop’s Lee Westwood finally win a major? (Yes, that’s a repeat from this column exactly a year ago!).

He’s certainly had the big build-up this week and the course at Royal Lytham is said to suit his game. Didn’t suit it very well yesterday unfortunately.

If he doesn’t win a major this year but does so after he’s moved to America, we’ll get a Worksop mention in somewhere, rest assured.

If he does win, then it puts an end to one stat I caught this week. No English golfer has won the Open in England for 43 years. That was Scunthorpe’s Tony Jacklin and at Lytham too.

The Open at Lytham always provokes personal memories.

I was at the 1974 Open there along with my best mate (sadly no longer with us) and, after a tiring few days decided that, from the start of the final day, we’d plonk ourselves in the stand overlooking the 18th. It was perfect because, from the back row, you could look behind and see them teeing off (towards the second, I think) and then see them all coming in to the 18th green.

With a few beers thrown in throughout, it was a really great day.

It was the year Gary Player won it and, as you do, you might pick a favourite golfer. At the time, mine was Player.

His finish was rather unusual in that his approach to the 18th went through the green and ended up right alongside the clubhouse. He could only play the next shot left-handed and did so with the back of his putter but still had enough in hand to win.

We checked out of our guesthouse the next day and the room key had a oval, metal tag attached. On the back it said Rabbit.

That was the nickname of Gary Player’s caddy!

While Worksop’s Lee Westwood will soon be no more, we’ll never be able to get rid of the latest tag.

It belongs to Wimbledon champion Jonny Marray. He’s got that for life.

It was right that the city gave him a civic reception this week for what is a very special achievement. Now, tennis fan Maurice O’Neill was the city council to go one step further.

He believes the Sheffield tennis ace should have his own star embedded in the pavement amongst those various sporting stars of Sheffield past and present in the walk of fame outside the Town Hall.

“What Jonny did is a once-in-a-lifetime achievement and needs some permanent recognition,” says Maurice who has followed his career.

So, somebody in the Town Hall can expect some earnest lobbying soon for another star on the pavement. I think it’s a fair enough request.