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Page last updated at 01:14 GMT, Friday, 9 April 2010 02:14 UK

British golfers suffer mixed fortunes at US Masters

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Westwood pleased with Augusta best

Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter finished in genuine contention but British golfers enjoyed a mixed opening round of the US Masters in Augusta.

Westwood made his best-ever start to a Masters by carding a five-under 67, with counterpart Poulter one shot back.

Veteran Sandy Lyle continued the success of the older generation by posting a three-under-par round of 69.

But several other players struggled, with Rory McIlroy (74), Paul Casey (75) and Ross Fisher (77) off the pace.

Luke Donald finished two shots over par, with Graeme McDowell one shot further back but the challenges of Simon Dyson (77), Oliver Wilson (78) and Ian Woosnam (81) are all but over.

Eighteen greens in regulation on Thursday meant Westwood made his best-ever start to a Masters campaign at the 11th time of asking.

The European number one hit seven birdies and confirmed his position as one of the favourites for the tournament.

It was, he said, "easily the best" he had played over the famed Augusta National Golf Club course.

"That was a 67 that could have been a 64 or anything today," he said.

"Over the last few years, I've gradually found a way to plod my way around and feel more comfortable.

"I'm gradually working out a way for me to get around this golf course in as few shots as possible."

Poulter, meanwhile, was pleased to have carded a competitive score in such tricky and uncharacteristically poor conditions in Georgia.

Sandy Lyle
Lyle found form but many of his British counterparts struggled in the wind

"It stayed pretty windy most of the day," he said.

"It's nice - there are a couple of great names on the leaderboard. Tom Watson was inspirational at the Open and Freddie Couples loves this golf course and it's fantastic to be part of it."

Lyle's round was his first sub-70 in the event for 18 years and left the 52-year-old 1988 champion only three shots off the lead with an excellent chance of making the cut.

"I've got the first round over with and I'm very pleased with how my golf has been going," he said.

"I'd like to win it and if I can get my game going the way I would like then I might be right up there."

Casey, on the other hand, was left to wonder what might have been after an inconsistent opening round that left him nine shots off the pace.

"That was very frustrating," he said.

"It was probably the best I have hit the ball all year and I didn't get any good bounces when I needed one, simple as that.

"Thursday is often the day when they get the greens the fastest all week, but the guys who have been here before know that. I didn't putt well at all. It was just very frustrating out there."



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see also
Woods hits form but Couples leads
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Woods grateful for warm reception
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Masters day one as it happened
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Masters photos - day one
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Woods 'failed to be a role model'
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Augusta Masters Weather Forecast
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BBC Sport's Masters preview
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All eyes on Augusta
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Oosthuizen claims par-3 Contest
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England due for major win - Casey
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Golf on the BBC
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