Westwood Out in Front in Spain
Defending champion Retief Goosen was two shots back after an opening-round 66. Goosen was joined by Trevor Immelman, Markus Brier, Andrew Coltart, Nick O'Hern and Stephen Scahill in a tie for fifth.
Westwood, who won five times in 2000 on his way to the Order of Merit title, has seen his fair share of struggles without a single top-10 finish this season. However, the Englishman, fresh off a solid performance at the Ryder Cup in September, showed signs of his old form at Club de Campo.
'I've worked very hard at home for the last two weeks and I feel it's all coming together,' said Westwood. 'I was looking forward to playing this week and got here early on Tuesday to prepare well.'
He collected three birdies on the front nine and added another at the 10th to move to 4-under. After a birdie at the 12th, Westwood had an eagle opportunity at the par-5 14th, but his putt came up short. Nonetheless, he tapped in for birdie to grab a share of the lead.
Westwood took sole possession of first place at the par-3 17th. He knocked his tee shot within tap-in distance and converted for his best round of the year.
'It's been a long time since I shot a 64,' said Westwood. 'I think this is my lowest score for two years, so it's very satisfying. I've worked hard for it.
'I've been working hard for the last two years, but golf is a strange game. Sometimes you just need to find the key and the confidence can come back as quickly as it left.'
Harrington, who is looking to dethrone Goosen as Order of Merit champion, picked up his first birdie at the fourth and added another at the eighth. He ran home three consecutive birdies starting at the 10th before a birdie at the 15th for a round of 65.
Goosen, who became the first South African to win the Order of Merit with a victory at this event last year, currently leads the European Tour money list.
Adam Scott, a two-time winner on tour this season, had seven birdies and three bogeys to finish three shots back at 4-under-par 67. Scott was joined by Roger Chapman, Diego Borrego, Carlos Balmaseda, Sam Torrance, Christopher Hanell, Patrik Sjoland and Marten Olander.
Fredrik Jacobson, Gary Orr, Anders Hansen, Graeme McDowell, Tomas Jesus Munoz, Henrik Nystrom, Jorge Berendt, Steen Tinning, Jose Rivero, Anthony Wall and Gary Evans are tied at 3-under-par 68.
Seve Ballesteros, a three-time winner of this event, withdrew before the start of the tournament due to the death of his mother. Ballesteros was replaced in the field by Peter Fowler.
Full-field scores from the Telefonica Open de Madrid
What's in the bag: API winner McIlroy
Rory McIlroy closed in 64 to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Here's a look inside the winners' bag.
Driver: TaylorMade M3 (8.5 degrees), with Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 70X shaft
Fairway woods: TaylorMade M3 (15 degrees) with Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 80TX, (19 degrees) with Fujikura Rombax P95X shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P-750 (4), P-730 RORS prototype (5-9), with Project X 7.0 shafts
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (48, 52, 56 degrees), Hi-Toe(60 degrees), with Project X Rifle 6.5 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade TP Black Copper Soto prototype
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
API purse payout: What Rory, Tiger, field made
Rory McIlroy won the Arnold Palmer Invitational and collected one of the biggest non-major paychecks of the year. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out at Bay Hill.
|T14||Charles Howell III||-6||$137,950|
|T14||Byeong Hun An||-6||$137,950|
After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective
Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.
On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...
Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner
On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...
Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.
After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.
Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.
A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray
Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call
PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.
At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.
“The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”
Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.
Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.
Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.
“Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.