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Original Issue

Q+A Lee Westwood Hoping to end a brutal slump, the Brit returned to New Orleans, the site of his 1998 breakthrough win

SI: You were only 25 when you won here, the start of a four-year
run that shot you to fourth in the World Ranking. Now you haven't
won in 31 months and you're ranked 246th. Are you trying to
recover some good karma here?

LW: It is nice to come back to a place where I have good
memories. I'd like to play more events over here, but since my
World Ranking has dropped, it's difficult to get invites.

SI: At your last event, in Portugal, you shot an 81 in the first
round and said you were lucky to have broken 90. Did you mean it?

LW: Yeah, I guess I did. It's funny what comes out of your mouth
when you're in that frame of mind.

SI: Has it been hard to keep your English sense of humor during
your slump?

LW: You're asked the same question all the time about not playing
well, and you say things like that to keep yourself entertained.
I'm not going to walk around being miserable about things.

SI: For those who don't get to see you play very often, what's
wrong with your game?

LW: I still hit some good shots, but the bad shots have been
really bad. My distance control has been poor because the
strike's been poor. Then, I started working so much on the range
on the long game that the short game started to suffer.

SI: How did things start falling apart in the first place?

LW: I felt my swing starting to get away from me toward the end
of 2000, even though I won the Order of Merit. At the start of
the following year I took off three months to be with [wife]
Laurae for the birth of our little boy, Sam. I'd been playing so
much for so long, I wanted a break.

SI: Do you regret that time off?

LW: No, not at all.

SI: Is it nice to be here, where your struggles attract less

LW: (Laughing.) Sure, especially with you standing in front of me
with a notebook. Honestly, yes. I'm not as high-profile a golfer
here, and it's nice not have to do as many interviews.

SI: You didn't get your second win here this week, but are you
encouraged by your performance, finishing 37th?

LW: I'm not going to get carried away. There have been weeks
during all this when I'd felt like I'd found it, but it felt like
it was miles away again a week later. But, to be sure, I take it
as a step in the right direction.

COLOR PHOTO: STUART FRANKLIN/GETTY IMAGES FIRST TO WORST Westwood has fallen to 178th on the European tour's money list.