The Open: Lee Westwood shines with second-round 68 at Muirfield
Lee Westwood played down an uncertain finish to his second round of the Open after a 68 got him to two under.
Last Updated: 19/07/13 10:54pm
The 40-year-old Englishman looked set to claim the outright lead after he birdied the first two holes and picked up further shots at five, eight and nine in a scorching outward 31.
Westwood jumped into a share of the overall lead with Zach Johnson when he added another birdie at the 12th, but he dropped shots at the next two and failed to get up and down from sand at the last.
His disappointing finish left him in a share of the early clubhouse lead with Tiger Woods and Henrik Stenson, but he was delighted with his form over the first two-thirds of the round.
"I was pleased to be six-under through 12. I was playing some great stuff and it was just getting harder as the holes progressed, tougher to score, tougher to get it close," he said.
"I was hitting the ball well, controlling the flight most of the time pretty well and getting up and down when I need to," added Westwood, whose putting has improved significantly since he began working with former Open champion Ian Baker-Finch.
"I'm putting nicely," he said. "I always seem to putt the greens well. But I got a couple of tips on getting tension out of my arms and having a bit more control. I'm getting it on line nicely, and I've gauged the pace of the greens.
"The golf course got really difficult and the finish is tough as 16, 17 and 18 are playing hard.
"We had an advantage playing early. I thought one over would be right in contention so to be two under is a real bonus.
"The greens were a little softer this morning. I repaired a pitch mark on the second and third but that was about it as far as that was concerned. They started to firm up pretty quickly."
Those firm conditions had prompted complaints from a number of players on the first day, but Westwood added: "It's a major and I love playing the Open Championship.
"It's the biggest event of the year for me. Why not enjoy it out there? It's tough for everybody so smile your way through it.
"There's not many majors you turn up where it's a birdie-fest and you make a bogey and you feel like you're losing - getting lapped by the field.
"It's just a case of not following a bogey with another three bogeys in major championships, limiting the damage and picking up birdies whenever you can."