The Masters 2013: Lee Westwood's putter keeps him in hunt after a sloppy start at Augusta
Briton starts with a bogey but claws back to a two-under finish in quest for a first major
Friday 12 April 2013
The green jackets responsible for deciding the pairings were either trying to inspire Lee Westwood or twist a knife into his heart. The 39-year-old former World No 1 set off hoping for a fast start in pursuit of that elusive first major championship title at his 14th Masters and 60th major. His partners? Mike Weir and Jim Furyk, the Masters and US Open champions from 2003.
Westwood has reached the summit of the game and won more worldwide tournaments than the Canadian and American combined and yet Worksop's finest, now a Florida resident, must have glanced at his partners on the 1st tee and wondered how the hell they have triumphed at one of the four coveted titles and yet he is still stuck on zero. He turns 40 at the end of this month and Colin Montgomerie believes this is Westwood's last chance to avoid being, well, the new Colin Montgomerie with a career spent largely dominating the European Tour but falling agonisingly short at the history-making championships. Westwood has 13 top-10s in the majors and his last three finishes at the Masters have been third, 11th and second.
Tee to green, Westwood is one of the finest in the game. Chipping and putting have long been his Achilles heels. So driving his opening shot into the Augusta pine trees right of the first fairway was not exactly what Westwood had in mind over breakfast.
From there, among the pine needles, it got worse. His escape shot clattered into a tree trunk which brought it to a halt 20 yards short of the green, leaving him a nasty knee-trembling chip over one of Augusta's blindingly white sand bunkers. It came to a halt pin high just 10 feet from the cup. Perfect. And then gravity and the slope of the green did their deadly deed. There were gasps from the galleries and a grimace from Westwood as his ball trickled back down to the edge of the green. He chipped up to 12 feet and missed the putt. Double-bogey six. Disaster among the dogwoods.
But they make them tough in Worksop. Westwood thrashed his drive down the fairway of the par-five 2nd, which set up the opportunity for a two-putt birdie. One shot recovered. But there was more trouble at the 3rd. He committed the cardinal sin of taking an iron off the tee for safety then plopped his ball in a fairway bunker. It took a slippery 12-foot par saver to keep him from giving that birdie right back. He made a complete hash of the par-three 4th. He chipped through the green and holed an improbable 35-footer to save par. At least the putter was working.
Westwood dug in and returned to even par with a birdie at the 9th before finally getting his account into the red numbers at the 10th. Westwood now had control over his swing. Down in the cathedral bowl of the course, where the grandstands (sorry, bleachers) were packed and the oohs and aahs echo around the pines, turning Augusta into a golfing stadium, the par-five 13th and 15th holes coughed up two more birdies to take Westwood to three under par. Shame then, after grinding back from such a sloppy start, that he threw in a bogey at the 17th. Still, 70, two under par, not bad.
At least he had the pleasure of seeing his name writ large on the leaderboard as he climbed to the top of the hill to the 18th green. There he will have also seen the name of David Lynn at four under on his Masters debut.
So as the galleries swarmed after Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, amid all the glamour of Augusta, it was two lads from Worksop and Stoke that had provided the morning's entertainment.
Latest in Sport
Joey Barton joins Burnley: Ex-QPR midfielder signs one-year deal, immediately regrets tweet criticising living the Lancashire town last year
Kevin De Bruyne to Manchester City: £58m deal hits the rocks as Wolfsburg admits they're 'in no rush' to sell former Chelsea midfielder
Manchester City face another struggle to make an impact in Champions League
Paul Pogba to Chelsea: Transfer news live - John Stones latest, Gareth Bale and Neymar to Manchester United, Edinson Cavani to Arsenal
Kevin De Bruyne to Manchester City: Wolfsburg admit they can't compete with 'astonishing' £200,000-a-week offer as £58m deal nears
- 1 Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe Ned Stark's son may have a twin sister
- 2 Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
- 4 iPhone 6s camera: features to include 4K video camera and flash for selfies
- 5 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn