Westwood masters greens to close in on rare win

 

Shenzhen

The more birdie putts Lee Westwood made yesterday, the more he began to believe he has finally fixed the biggest weakness in his game. Westwood made 11 birdies, many on long putts, to shoot a 61 and grab a share of the lead with Louis Oosthuizen after the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions.

Oosthuizen, meanwhile, struggled on the greens, losing the five-stroke lead he held at the start of the weekend when shooting a two-under 70. Westwood and Oosthuizen are tied at 18 under before today's round, three shots ahead of Phil Mickelson, who made seven birdies in his 66.

Ernie Els briefly surged into a share of the lead on the back nine before finding water on the tricky 15th hole and taking a double bogey. He shot a 69 to drop to fourth.

Westwood, a former world No 1, has long been considered one of the most consistent golfers in the game, yet has never won a major, finishing runner-up at the Masters and The Open in 2010.

He has also played in more World Golf Championship events than any other golfer (41), but his best result is second place on three occasions, most recently at the HSBC Champions in 2010.

"It does surprise me that I've played more than anyone else. I didn't realise I was that old," the 39-year-old said. "I know I've played a lot. I've never won one."

It was the second time in three weeks that Westwood had shot a 61 – he had also achieved the score to beat Charl Schwartzel in the semi-finals of the World Golf Final exhibition in Turkey in mid-October.

But Westwood's total yesterday was by no means the low round of the day. That honour went to the American Brandt Snedeker, who finished with a 60, a new course record.

Starting back in 12th in China yesterday, Westwood began with three birdies on the first three holes, then birdied the fifth and seventh holes and sunk a 10-foot putt for another birdie on the 573-yard par-five ninth to make the turn at 13 under, four strokes back.

The Englishman kept up the pressure on the back nine, closing his round with four more birdies to catch Oosthuizen and Els.

After his third-place finish at the Masters this year, Westwood admitted that his putting was "costing me tournaments". However, the many hours of hard work he has put into that aspect of his game over the past couple of months is starting to show dividends.

"I've struggled on the greens. That's been widely and comprehensively reported," he said. "But today I felt really confident on the greens and was looking at 20-footers thinking, 'Yeah, I'm going to make this one.'"

After two rounds of nearly flawless golf, Oosthuizen was five strokes up on the field and appeared to be in complete control going into the weekend.

But cracks began to appear in his putting game early yesterday. After making a nice chip shot from the bunker on the third hole, Oosthuizen missed a routine five-footer for birdie, then three-putted on the par-three fifth hole for bogey – only his second of the tournament – and allowed another birdie chance to slip away on the sixth when his 25-foot putt stopped inches short.

Oosthuizen then narrowly missed two more birdie putts within 10 feet on the eighth and ninth holes, and was forced to settle for par on both occasions.

Els's solid round came undone on the 580-yard, par-five 15th hole, when he plunged his second shot into the water. He managed to recover from that setback with his next shot, but then missed an easy five-footer on the green. The South African had been bogey-free up to that point in the tournament.

Suggested Topics
Property
pets
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
News
news
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living