Westwood masters fatigue to take lead

Ryder Cup players running on empty as weather leaves second round unfinished
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The Independent Online

If Nick Faldo was that kind of person he might look at Lee Westwood riding high at British Masters and wonder if it was something he did or said at last week's Ryder Cup which caused Europe's Iron Man to record one point out of four. Fortunately, Faldo is as prone to self-doubt as he is to self-loathing so he will probably just shake his head and utter a few imponderables. Rotten luck, terrible timing, and all that.

Westwood's demeanour, however, tells its own story. Yesterday, after a 70 that moved him up to six under, he did not resemble a defending champion desperate to reclaim his title so much as a defending champion desperate to reclaim his duvet.

"I'm shattered and running on empty," he said. "I scrambled well and all the work I've done on my short game paid off. But I was lethargic and tired all day and I don't think three hours sitting around waiting to play helped."

Westwood was referring to the fog which delayed the start of play. Westwood had been due to tee off at 8.10am but he had to hang around until 11.20. It was exactly what he did not need after having his emotions fried in Kentucky.

Credit therefore to the 35-year-old for wedging tee-pegs between his eye-lids and producing two rounds that have left him perfectly poised to pick up the cheque for £310,000 that would put him within £87,000 of Padraig Harrington at the top of the money list. When one considers that a sprightly 28-year-old such as Oliver Wilson pulled out of this tournament, citing "fatigue", having figured in just two games at Valhalla, then it is possible to estimate Westwood's effort.

Graeme McDowell, the Ulsterman who was inspiring in Louisville, was perspiring in Sutton Coldfield last night, as he waited to see whether his three-over total would be good enough to make the cut. He, too, spoke of being "exhausted".

"I don't know how to deal with this 'comedown' feeling," he said. "Lee has learnt how to deal with things better than I have. Physically I'm probably not all there, but mentally I'm definitely not. If last week was 11 out of 10 then I'm five out of 10 this week. Once again, Lee has shown just how good he is."

That was certainly a relief for Westwood's management company, ISM – which promotes this event – and for the BBC. The cut claimed one big name in Colin Montgomerie, whose first-round 81 left him with no chance of making the weekend, and without Westwood the scoreboard would look decidedly light.

Yesterday's action was given a colourful edge by the play going out in pink shirts, to raise money for breast cancer charities. However, the second round could not be completed and the stragglers will resume this morning. It is a pain for some, but a boon for Westwood. It means another few minutes in bed.