Westwood marches into lead as resilient Woods keeps fighting

Any big-time leader board should not consider itself worthy of the description if it does not feature Lee Westwood on one of its premier rungs. The Englishman, who has finished in the top three in each of the last three majors, yesterday restated his penchant for golf's most prestigious events by marching into the second-round lead of the Players Championship yesterday.

While Rory McIlroy, Padraig Harrington and Justin Rose all missed the cut, and Tiger Woods again produced a mixed bag – the beleaguered world No 1 did, however, make it through to the weekend – Westwood added a sparkling seven-under-par 65 to his opening 67 to wrest the clubhouse advantage in golf's richest event.

His day's work in Jacksonville was so reminiscent of his performance at the Masters last month, where only an inspired Phil Mickelson denied him the major he deserves. On 12 under, the world No 4 was only two short of the tournament's 36-hole record set by Greg Norman in 1994. From tee to green, Westwood is quite clearly the best in the world at the moment and yet again he was peerless in this regard.

"This course sets up like a major championship in a way, when you have it in your mind to play away from certain sucker flags," said the 37-year-old. "You have to use your brain and a bit of experience. It's a good position to be in. Sunday night is the best time to lead but any time in the tournament is a good time to lead."

Westwood was wise not to get ahead of himself as he was just one stroke in front of Japan's Ryuji Imada and also Francesco Molinari, whose decision to play in Florida rather than at his home Italian Open was paying handsome dividends. Molinari matched Westwood's round as he continued his bid to go one better than his brother Edoardo's runner-up finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando two months ago.

Rose, on the other hand, went in the water for a closing bogey that was to cost him his place on level par, Harrington got a ball stuck up a tree four holes from home and McIlroy, also finishing on one over, failed to find the inspiration of last week's maiden US Tour triumph. There was always a danger that his remarkable final-round 62 at last week's Quail Hollow Championship would take too much out of the 21-year-old, and so it proved.

As for Woods, who blew out by eight shots with a horrid 79 the previous Friday, he had five birdies, but also two bogeys and a double-bogey. That translated into a one-under 71 to leave him on three under. He was nine behind Westwood and maybe it says so much about his current expectations that he seemed anything but distraught at being cast so far adrift.

Woods missed the cut last week and was widely tipped to miss two in a row for the first time in his career. But showing the fight that was conspicuously lacking in Charlotte, he bounced back from four bogeys and a double-bogey to ensure he will make the ninth and 10th competitive rounds of his comeback following a five-month absence. Typical of Woods, he was not prepared to write off his chances.

"Got to keep plodding along, this golf course, anything can happen," he said. "There are guys that can make threes and guys that can make sixes on the same hole."

Mickelson can leapfrog Woods at the top of the world rankings if he wins and Woods fails to make the top five. However, just like Woods he hit a 71 to lie at three under.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower