Thursday 22 February 2018

Westwood motors 'to best round ever' with super 60


James Corrigan in Bangkok

Lee Westwood briefly hesitated here yesterday before boarding the motorboat on the 17th which transports the players to the island green. Perhaps he didn't believe he needed its assistance. After all, he'd been walking on water all afternoon.

At the time, the Englishman was 11-under, and had he made that 15-footer on the penultimate hole he would have chalked up the magical 59 in the first round of the Thailand Golf Championship at the Amata Spring Country Club.

Instead it was merely a 60, the lowest score of his career. As Westwood said afterwards: "It wasn't meant to be." Of course, he did so with his trademark smirk. After 18 years being a pro, Westwood had just compiled what he labelled "the best round I ever played."

That was some commendation, but was not as gilt-edged as that of Billy Foster. Having been caddie to Seve Ballesteros, Sergio Garcia and Darren Clarke, the Yorkshireman thought that he had witnessed it all.

"In my 30 years out here that was the best round I've ever seen," he said.

"I thought Lee's 62 at Sun City two weeks ago was special, but the only thing which compares to this is Darren Clarke's 60 at the K Club. Yet in terms of ball-striking this was better."

For the first five holes, the 38-year-old looked like he was still on the treadmill -- and it was stuck on the Usain Bolt setting. Birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie, birdie, for six-under after five.

"I messed up by making a few pars," said Westwood, before recounting how he left an eagle putt on the edge at the 11th and a birdie putt within a similar agonising measure on the 14th. But if he had holed one of them would he have converted the 12-footer on the 18th? He'll never know and, by the look of him, he'll never care.

"It'd be a bit harsh if I berated myself, wouldn't it?" he said.

Meanwhile, a bright ray of sunlight suddenly broke through recent gloom for Clarke too as the Ulsterman compiled arguably his best nine holes since winning July's Open.

On the outward half, Clarke shot a four-over par 40, including a double-bogey six at nine, but his day changed utterly as he fired off five birdies on a bogey-free homeward 31 for a 71.

Tied 27th on one-under, Clarke was two shots ahead of Damien McGrane overnight. The Kells man lay just inside the projected cut mark after his 73, while Muskerry's Niall Turner has work to do to make the weekend following a 75.

LUKE DONALD yesterday added the European Tour Golfer of the Year title to all his other achievements in 2011.

The first player ever to top the money lists on both sides of the Atlantic in the same season, Donald was earlier this week voted the PGA Tour Player of the Year.

DUBAI LADIES MASTERS: American teenage sensation Alexis Thompson surged into the lead at half-way in the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters with a sublime, bogey-free second round 66. (© Independent News Service)

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