Westwood shoots 64 to take the lead
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!”)