Monday 27 February 2017

Westwood goes back to the future to find his groove at The Grove

Phil Casey

Lee Westwood hits his tee shot on the 14th hole during the first round of the British Masters at The Grove (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Lee Westwood hits his tee shot on the 14th hole during the first round of the British Masters at The Grove (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Lee Westwood found inspiration in past performances as he looked to put his Ryder Cup disappointment behind him with a second victory in the British Masters.

Westwood feels he let down good friend and captain Darren Clarke after losing his three matches as Europe suffered their heaviest defeat for 35 years at Hazeltine.

The former World No 1 then followed that disappointing performance by missing the cut in last week's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, thanks largely to a second-round 82 at Kingsbarns.

However, Westwood was back to something approaching his best at The Grove, carding six birdies and two bogeys in a four-under-par 67 which left him a shot behind the lead shared by compatriot Tommy Fleetwood, Scotland's Marc Warren, Finland's Mikko Ilonen and South Africa's Richard Sterne.

"I'm really pleased, it's the best I've played in quite a while," said Westwood. "My driving has not been great but I drove it really well today, didn't miss a fairway, and gave myself a lot of chances.

"I've been working on a couple of things on the swing, looking at old videos when I was getting in good positions.

"It's a swing though I've used for 20 years, just set my right arm a bit faster and a little bit better and it gives me a bit more room on the way down.

"Probably the only poor shot I hit was on the seventh, when Billy (Foster, his caddie) told me left of the green wasn't good and I managed to hit it there anyway."

Dunhill Links winner Tyrrell Hatton continued his good form with an opening 68 matched by Graeme McDowell, Shane Lowry and Chris Wood, while defending champion Matt Fitzpatrick had to settle for a 70 after two bogeys in his last seven holes.

Tournament host Luke Donald struggled to a six-over 77, while Masters champion Danny Willett was forced to withdraw before starting his round, the 29-year-old suffering from the recurrence of a back injury.

There was better news for former Ryder Cup star Jose Maria Olazabal, who carded a 73 in his first competitive round since the Masters last April.

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Irish Independent

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