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Golf News: - Posted 6th April 1998

Westwood odds slashed for Masters

London - Lee Westwood is now a major contender for the US Masters, according to London bookmakers who have slashed his odds from 40-1 last week into 14-1 third favourite following his win in New Orleans yesterday.

Rising star Westwood, from Worksop, jumped four places to 14th in the world rankings after his victory in the Freeport McDermott Classic and is now far and away Britain's best hope, as far as bookies William Hill are concerned.

Westwood, 24, has won four events on the main tours in the last six months at the Volvo Masters (Europe), the Sumitomo Visa Taiheiyo (Asia), Australian Open and now in New Orleans and Hill's spokesman Graham Sharpe says the British public are starting to take notice.

"His odds have come down quite spectacularly from 40-1 this time last week, to 28-1 going into the weekend, and now he is 14-1 third favourite," said Sharpe, whose firm rate only Tiger Woods and Ernie Els more likely than Westwood to win in Augusta.

"People like to see who is in form and wait for the weekend tournaments to be finished. "Westwood would have come down after playing so well anyway, but people have decided to latch on to a man in form. A lot of them have jumped on the Westwood bandwagon," added Sharpe.

Despite Westwood's hot streak, Hill's major liability is still last year's winner Woods, who is now only 250-1 to complete a Majors grand slam this year.

The British punters do not yet seem to be fancying any of Westwood's compatriots for the Masters, which begins on Thursday.

Of them, Colin Montgomerie, still searching for his first Major title, is shortest at 25-1, while former winners Nick Faldo and Ian Woosnam are rated outsiders at 33-1 and 50-1 respectively.

Selection of Hill's latest odds on the Masters: 5-1 T Woods, 10-1 E Els 10-1, 14-1 L Westwood, 20-1 T Lehman, D Love III, P Mickelson, 25-1 C Montgomerie, 33-1 N Faldo, B Langer, Jose Maria Olazabal, 50-1 I Woosnam.

1998 Press Association