Thursday, April 17, 2014
By DOUG FERGUSON The Associated Press
GULLANE, Scotland - Lee Westwood passed his first big test Saturday when he outplayed Tiger Woods and grabbed a two-shot lead in the British Open.
Leader Lee Westwood has the added pressure of knowing he’s never won a major, and hopes to become the first Briton to win the British Open since Nick Faldo in 1992.
The Associated Press
The key hole Saturday at the British Open:
HOLE: No. 17
STROKE AVERAGE: 5.14
KEY FACT: Leader Lee Westwood birdied there, as did Hunter Mahan to climb into the final pairing alongside the Englishman. Tiger Woods, the only other player below par for the tournament, made bogey and will go off next to last.
Lee Westwood 72-68-70-210
Hunter Mahan 72-72-68-212
Tiger Woods 69-71-72-212
Adam Scott 71-72-70-213
Angel Cabrera 69-72-73-214
Zach Johnson 66-75-73-214
Phil Mickelson 69-74-72-215
Sergio Garcia 75-73-68-216
TELEVISION: 6 a.m., ESPN
The next one figures to be the toughest test of all.
Westwood somehow salvaged a bogey from the knee-high grass on the 16th, pulled ahead of Woods with a birdie on the 17th and was solid down the last hole for a 1-under 70 that gave him a two-shot lead going into the final day at Muirfield.
Widely considered the best player of his generation to have never won a major, Westwood is the 54-hole leader for the second time. Phil Mickelson overtook him in the Masters three years ago. Two other times, Westwood missed a playoff by one shot.
"I'm hoping it's going to turn out differently because I haven't won one yet and I'd like to win one," Westwood said. "But what can you do? You can only do what you think is right and put all that practice and hard work you've done tomorrow, try not to get in your own way mentally and just focus on the job at hand and believe you're good enough."
He was plenty good on another warm, sunny afternoon on a course that was noticeable softer but no less demanding.
ONE SWING HURTS WOODS
After three days on brittle, brown Muirfield, only three players remained under par.
Westwood was at 3-under 210, two shots clear of Woods (72) and Hunter Mahan, whose 68 matched the best score of the third round. Mahan, also going after that maiden major with far fewer credentials than Westwood, will be playing in the final group at his second straight major.
Woods lost his chance to get in the final group with one swing.
Tied with Westwood as they played the par-5 17th into a stiff breeze off the Firth of Forth, Woods tried to hit 3-wood over a series of bunkers to allow for a simple wedge into the green. With his ball on the slightest slope, he got it up in the air just enough that the wind grabbed it and deposited the ball in the bunker. Woods had to blast out sideways and missed a 15-foot par putt.
Woods twice had at least a share of the 36-hole lead in majors a year ago and fell out of contention on Saturday. Despite the late bogey, he did well enough this time that he was only two shots behind. This is his best chance to end his five-year drought in the majors since the upheaval in his personal life at the end of 2009.
And while he has never won a major when trailing going into the last day, the outlook didn't look bleak from his vantage point.
"I've got 14 of these things, and I know what it takes to win it," Woods said. "He's won tournaments all over the world. He knows how to win golf tournaments. He's two shots ahead and we're going to go out there and both compete and play. It's not just us two. There's a bunch of guys who have a chance to win this tournament. And all of us need to really play well tomorrow to win it."
Instead of playing with Westwood in the final group, Woods will be in the penultimate group with Masters champion Adam Scott, who had a 70. The Australian not only is poised to be the first player with a multiple-major season in seven years, he can atone for his meltdown a year ago at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
"I go out there tomorrow not carrying the weight of the lead or not having won a major," Scott said. "So it's a different feeling."
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