West­wood shoots 64 to take the lead

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - GRANT WIN­TER

LET­TING his clubs do the talk­ing, Lee West­wood put for­ward a pretty con­vinc­ing ar­gu­ment as to just why he is the new world No 1 golfer by blitz­ing the Gary Player Coun­try Club course in a ter­rific eight-un­der­par 64 yes­ter­day to jump into a three-stroke lead on 12-un­der 132 at the half­way mark in the Ned­bank Golf Chal­lenge.

Af­ter open­ing his round with two straight pars, the 37year-old English­man rolled in a 40-footer for birdie at the tight 411m par-4 third hole, flanked on ei­ther side by thick bush.

The big putt, he said, “got his day go­ing”.

No truer word was said be­cause it was the first of five straight threes on a bo­gey-free score­card that con­tained eight birdies, in­clud­ing one at the tiger-like 459m par-4 18th where he hit a won­der­ful ap­proach to six feet and con­fi­dently knocked in the putt.

Talk­ing Tiger, it was pointed out to West­wood that in all prob­a­bil­ity if Tiger Woods were to win his own tour­na­ment, the Chevron World Chal­lenge, in Amer­ica this week and he (West­wood) were to fin­ish out­side the top two here at Sun City, then the Amer­i­can would go back to No 1.

“I’m not in­ter­ested in what’s go­ing on in Cal­i­for­nia,” West­wood bris­tled.

“It’s ir­rel­e­vant. I’m only in­ter­ested in my own game, and what I’m do­ing here.”

Good­ness, it was al­most as if he was dis­miss­ing Woods as ir­rel­e­vant.

And it cer­tainly could be in­ter­preted as fight­ing talk from a man who fir mly be­lieves he is the best player in the world, and fully de­serves to be No1.

If he cared to look at the first round scores – and judg­ing by his at­ti­tude he clearly wouldn’t – he would note that Tiger opened with a 65 to lead his own event.

Hmmm. Sixty-five is one more than 64. Maybe some­thing in that?

The 64 is just one shy of equalling the Sun City course record of 63 held by sev­eral play­ers.

“I know all about a 63 here be­cause Hen­rik Sten­son made 63 on his way to vic­tory two years when I was paired with him in the first round here,” said West­wood.

That day, the Swede pretty much got the most out of his round and it was the same with the English­man yes­ter­day.

He had twin loops of 32 and holed some good putts. “I like the greens. Such a nice sur­face. If you start a putt on line, it tends not to de­vi­ate. The green­keeper’s done a great job.”

The tour­na­ment, of course, is not won yet and West­wood’s clos­est chal­lenger is fel­low English­man Ross Fisher who came home in 68, also with a clos­ing birdie where he hit his ap­proach to within a few feet, to be on 135.

It could turn out to be a twoman race to­day and to­mor­row in the third and fourth rounds, as a trio of play­ers lie in third place but they’re six off the lead on 138.

To reach that num­ber Italy’s Edoardo Moli­nari made ea­glethrees at both the sec­ond and 10th holes on his way to 67, while overnight leader Padraig Harrington shot a dis­ap­point­ing 72 for 138 and the cigar and red wine-lov­ing Spa­niard Miguel (“I’m al­ler­gic to gym!”)

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