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Westwood in the pink after early blues

Lee Westwood
Westwood has made a stunning recovery after a poor first round

By Liam McLeod
BBC Scotland at the Scottish Open

Lee Westwood called himself stupid for teeing off at the Scottish Open after shooting a two over par round of 73.

The former European number one complained of a chest infection and a sleepless night on the eve of the tournament.

After improving with a splendid 66 on Friday, the Englishman looked anything but foolish as the weekend began.

And by close of play on Saturday, the Ryder Cup veteran was bright as a button, following a scintillating 64 to lie on 10 under par.

Westwood birdied nine of his opening 12 holes as he ripped up the Loch Lomond course in a third round that at one stage looked like it was going to be a record breaker.

"I was thinking about 59 on the 13th tee," he said. "I kept hitting the ball close all day.

"The longest putt I holed was about 15 feet on the fourth hole and 15 feet on the 12th out of those nine birdies."

Despite a dropped stroke over the final six holes, the man with 18 European Tour titles under his belt has thrust himself back into contention for number 19.

It would be his second here, having conquered Loch Lomond in 1998.

"This place means a lot to me," he told BBC Scotland. "It's a venue I look forward to every year."

And you know Westwood means what he is saying.

When asked why he plays here in the immediate build-up to The Open despite it not being a links course, he replied: "Because I love it here.

"It's nice to play links golf before The Open and I would like it more if there was a links tournament this weekend and Loch Lomond was the week after it.

"But I would never not play here because it's my favourite inland course in Britain."

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano
Leader Fernandez-Castano also shot a seven under round of 64 on Saturday

Despite having had a decent career so far - if co-owning a private jet is a barometer of decency - Westwood has yet to taste success at a major.

And last weekend, he lost out in a play-off at the French Open to Germany's Martin Kaymer, meaning he is still without a tour triumph since his British Masters win in 2007.

"I've done all there is to close out tournaments," he added.

"Last week, I felt that I got a bit unlucky, played some great golf and I honestly thought I had a better than 80% chance of winning really.

"But, you know, play-offs are like that, there can be very small margins.

"Sometimes you win, sometimes you don't. Look at Padraig (Harrington) a few years ago. He was finishing second all the time and suddenly he had a few great scores and he's a three-time major winner."

Despite a hectic schedule - though I'm sure that private jet cuts commuting time - Westwood managed to squeeze in a cheeky round at Turnberry before he arrived at Loch Lomond.

And, despite several public warnings about the punitive rough from his peers, the 36-year-old is not anticipating any more sleepless nights.

"I played it on Tuesday and I had only ever played there before with Andrew Coltart and that was on a lovely day with hardly any breeze, so it didn't give me a feel for what the course was like," he said.

"It's just about as perfect a set-up as you're ever going to get on a links course.

"It's going to be a good course for a long, straight driver. But like every major, every facet of your game has got to be on form.

"I like what I saw of Turnberry, it's in fantastic condition - almost perfect - it fitted my eye and I liked the way it shaped up."

Westwood is having to make do with a substitute caddie this week as his regular one - Billy Foster - is currently en-route to the Ayrshire coast.

He is walking there from Loch Lomond - complete with golf bag - to help raise money for The Darren Clarke Foundation.

"I'll tell you a funny story if you want," Westwood teased. "Billy was heading towards Irvine Bogside club and having seen it in the distance, he decided to take a short-cut through a corn field.

"He got within 15 yards of the Bogside and suddenly realised why it is indeed called Irvine Bogside, because between him and the golf club was a bog about half a mile up and down.

"I can imagine it now, just finding a golf bag lying down on the side of the green."

His bag man may have been floundering but Westwood is enjoying a firm foothold on the leaderboard going into the final day.



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see also
Goosen sets pace at Loch Lomond
10 Jul 09 |  Golf
Southern stars enjoy Loch Lomond
10 Jul 09 |  Golf
Laird relishes return to Scotland
08 Jul 09 |  Golf
Monty eyes homecoming boost
08 Jul 09 |  Golf


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