Wayward putter irks Westwood

Lee Westwood insisted a record seventh European Tour win this season was not out of the question despite his continuing putting woes in the Italian Open at Is Molas.

Lee Westwood insisted a record seventh European Tour win this season was not out of the question despite his continuing putting woes in the Italian Open at Is Molas.

Westwood could only manage a second-round 70 to finish seven under at half-way, five shots behind the joint leaders, New Zealand's Elliot Boult and Australian Richard Green.

But the world No 5 has not given up hope of reeling in the leaders if he can find a remedy over the weekend for his ills on the greens.

"It was the same story as Thursday," the 27-year-old Order of Merit leader said. "I holed nothing and it got very frustrating. I played prettily scrappily round the front nine - crap to be fair. This course does not reward good tee-to-green play which I prefer.

"It's a bit disappointing but I'm still a bit rusty after two weeks off and I'd rather it happened this week than next."

Next week is the Volvo Masters in Spain followed by the American Express Championship at Valderrama, the two events that will decide if Westwood deposes Colin Montgomerie as European No 1 for the first time in eight years.

Seven players were tied for second a shot behind Boult and Green including English trio Ian Poulter, Van Phillips and Peter Baker and Irish veteran Eamonn Darcy.

Darcy, a hero of Europe's 1987 Ryder Cup-winning side, needs to finish in the top three to retain his Tour card for next season. He was going the right way about it, helped by the same new ball being used by Sam Torrance which has given the veteran pair an extra 30 yards off the tee.

While Torrance had a rollercoaster 70 that included holing a 6-iron from 162 yards for an eagle, Darcy had five birdies and one bogey in his 68.

Poulter is enjoying a dream debut season on the European Tour and could take the lead in the race to be crowned Rookie of the Year this week. He arrived some £36,000 behind Alastair Forsyth but with the Scot missing the cut, is in line to overtake his rival and even record a win after adding a 67 to Thursday's 66.

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