Westwood's 63 turns heat on Montgomerie

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The Independent Online

Lee Westwood picked up the gauntlet thrown down by Colin Montgomerie in spectacular fashion in the Scandinavian Masters here yesterday.

Lee Westwood picked up the gauntlet thrown down by Colin Montgomerie in spectacular fashion in the Scandinavian Masters here yesterday.

Montgomerie, the defending champion, admitted he expects to win every tournament he enters in Europe and started well enough with a 68. But Westwood, also a previous champion, produced a round of 63, eight under par, which would have been a new course record if not for the preferred lies in operation. Due to the wet conditions the players were permitted to pick up and clean the ball, which invalidates any course records.

The 27-year-old from Worksop had an eagle and seven birdies, including four in his last five holes, to open a two-shot lead over the field. Japan's Katsuyoshi Tomori was alone in second after a 65, Spain's Diego Borrego and the Swede Olle Karlsson were on five under and the former Ryder Cupplayer David Gilford in a group of players a shot further back.

Westwood has been in superb form recently with a run of 1st , 2nd, 4th, 5th, 1st, 1st, 64th and 3rd in his last eight tournaments, (the only aberration being The Open at St Andrews), but was taking nothing for granted in the battle for the £164,000 first prize that could take him to top of the Order of Merit. "With players like Jesper [Parnevik], Monty and Darren [Clarke] playing I don't turn up expecting to win because some weeks the putts don't go in. I turn up knowing I should have a good chance if I play as well as I can from tee to green and putt well."

Montgomerie had been disillusioned with his putting after The Open where he finished well adrift of Tiger Woods. But armed with a new grip and a stone lighter into the bargain, the world No 4 was round in three-under-par, the only blemish being a bogey six on the fifth hole that he described as "crazy". Still suffering the effects of a migraine that forced him to pull out of the pro-am half-way through, Montgomerie said: "Nothing really happened but three under is OK. I putted a wee bit better and it's a decent start."

Parnevik, seeking a hat-trick of wins on home soil, could only manage a 71, while Clarke, with a 69, could not emulate his 62 in Wednesday's pro-am.

* The world No 3 and pre-tournament favourite, David Duval, withdrew from The International in Castle Rock, Colorado after six holes yesterday because of a back injury.

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