Better with age? Westwood takes lead at Players Championship

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA (AP) — Lee Westwood isn’t interested in comparing himself with the player who rose to number one in the world a decade ago. All he knows is he’s playing some of his best golf, and he gets another chance to see if it can hold up against the best field.

Westwood had all the shots on Friday in a bogey-free round at The Players Championship, with two birdies at the start and a nifty pitch to a troublesome pin on the par-5 ninth to close with a another birdie and a 6-under 66.

That gave him a one-shot lead over Matt Fitzpatrick (68) going into the weekend on the Stadium Course at the TPC Sawgrass, with US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau not too far behind.

Westwood, who turns 48 next month, played well enough to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week at Bay Hill except that DeChambeau was one shot better in a fascinating duel of generations on a course that favours power.

Sawgrass favours no particular style, and it produced an eclectic mix of contenders at the
halfway point.

“I think to compete in any of these tournaments against the best players in the world, you can’t have any weaknesses in your game,” Westwood said. “I wouldn’t be able to say I’m doing this better or that better.

Lee Westwood chips to the green on the ninth hole during the second round of the The Players Championship golf tournament. PHOTO: AP

“There’s not a shot out there I’m afraid of. There’s not a shot out there I’ll walk up to and think, ‘I haven’t got this one.’

“I’m comfortable out there with everything.”

He was at 9-under 135 and was part of the All-England final pairing yesterday. Sergio Garcia was another shot back after a 72 that looked like it was a lot worse with so many putts the Spaniard missed, including a 23-inch par putt on the 15th hole that followed a five-foot par putt he missed on the 14th.

Still, the 2008 champion showed plenty of game — and enough par putts that went in — to stay in the hunt. He drilled his approach to inches away on the par-5 11th for his third eagle of the week, which a already ties the tournament record.

And he finished in style with an approach that danced around the flag and settled five feet away for birdie on the 18th.

“It was a beautiful roller coaster,” Garcia said. “There were a lot of good things. Unfortunately, a lot of bad things.

“But more than anything there was a lot of fighting, and that’s one of the things that I’m most proud of because when things are not really happening and you miss a couple putts here and there, it’s easy to kind of let the round get away from you.”