The Open: Clubhouse lead will do for Lee Westwood

Lee Westwood shot a 68 today at Muirfield. Picture: Getty

Lee Westwood shot a 68 today at Muirfield. Picture: Getty

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England’s Lee Westwood believes his two-under clubhouse lead will look increasingly better as the second day of the 142nd Open Championship progresses.

The 40-year-old may have finished with three bogeys in his last six holes but he was far from disappointed with a 68.

When he knocked in a three-foot birdie - his sixth of the day - at the 12th he went to five under and into a share of the lead with Zach Johnson, who had yet to tee off at that point.

He may have fallen from that lofty perch fairly quickly but the Ryder Cup star was far from downhearted.

“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, putting nicely. The golf course got really difficult and the finish is tough as 16, 17 and 18 are playing hard.

“We had an advantage (playing in the morning). I’ll kick back this afternoon on the couch and watch some struggles and the cricket.”

Westwood was joined in the clubhouse by world number one Tiger Woods and Swede Henrik Stenson.

Woods had looked in command of his play off the tee and with his long irons but struggled to really get to grips with the greens.

He twice got to three under - with birdies at the third and fifth interspersed with a three-putt bogey after coming up short at the par-three - but that was the best he could manage.

After turning in 36 it was more of a grind coming home and only a 15-foot birdie putt at the last maintained his status at two-under as he carded a level-par 71.

Stenson shot 70 to improve his score by one and was relatively happy after struggles with his game in the last year.

“I’m up here and playing in a big tournament again. I think I’ve got the experience to do well in these championships,” he said.

“I’m very happy with the patience and then the mental balance that I’ve managed to keep these first two days.

“That’s one of the secrets to do well in this game and especially these tournaments and I’ve done well so far.”

Westwood’s prediction about the afternoon starters was not far wrong as none of the afternoon starters were able to make as much headway early on as he had done in the morning.

That was mainly as a result of the course drying out under the relentless baking sun and breeze blowing down the Firth of Forth.

Spaniard Rafael Cabrera-Bello, began the day four under but after dropping a shot at the short fourth birdied the fifth and seventh to move to five under to tie with overnight leader Johnson, who had still not teed off.

Compatriot Miguel Angel Jimenez’s approach to within three feet at the second briefly took him to four under but he gave that shot back after finding rough off the next tee.

Scotland’s Martin Laird got himself into the top 10 with a level-par 71 for a one-under total.

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