Notes Despite leg Westwood near top of leaderboard


ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – For a guy with a bad leg, Lee Westwood is playing pretty well.

The Englishman is at 6-under for the British Open, leaving him tied for third when the second round was halted by darkness Friday. Westwood shot a 1-under 71 on a day when blustery winds made any score below par look like a 62.

“I’m in a good position for the weekend, I think,” he said. “(But) I’m behind where I ought to be. I should really be 10-under, at worst. But I didn’t play last week. I didn’t really hit any balls, either.”

Westwood was at the French Open two weeks ago when his right calf swelled so badly doctors feared the 37-year-old might have a blood clot. Further tests showed he had instead ruptured the plantaris muscle, which runs down the calf. He played the tournament – tying for 18th – but skipped last week’s Scottish Open at Loch Lomond to give the leg a chance to heal.

He took almost all of last week off, not hitting balls until Friday, and played just one full practice round before the Open began.

“I knew I was hitting the ball well, so there was not really any need to do too much practicing,” Westwood said. “I’m just a bit rusty on the greens, which I might expect. We can sharpen it over the weekend and, no matter what the conditions are, I’ve still got a couple good scores in me.”

The No. 3 player in the world has finished in the top 20 in all but three of his 14 starts this year, including getting his second PGA Tour win at St. Jude’s. He’s been in contention at each of the four majors at least once, including finishing second at this year’s Masters and tying for third at Turnberry and the PGA last year.

BACKED UP: This wasn’t the kind of move Paul Lawrie wanted to make.

The last British player to win his own Open shot a 10-over 82 in Friday’s blustery conditions, a 13-stroke swing from the first round. At 10 over for the tournament, he’s all but assured of missing the cut for the fourth time in five years.

“That was one of the toughest days out on the golf course I can ever remember, to be honest,” the 1999 British Open champion said. “But I played very poorly, putted and chipped even worse, so 82 was about right. I really struggled, just couldn’t quite get into it at all. Had a poor three-putt at the third from not very far away, and it just got worse.”

Lawrie opened with a 69 on Thursday, only the second time since 2001 he’d broken 70; he shot 68 in the final round at Turnberry last time. But he went off in the very first group of the day, when the Old Course was playing as mild as it gets.

On Friday, it was about as nasty as it gets. With winds gusting around 40 mph, play was actually suspended midafternoon for 65 minutes.

“I would say it was unplayable for a wee while before they stopped it, to be honest,” said Lawrie, who was already 4 over when play was suspended. “When you’re over three- and four-foot putts and the ball is (moving) all the time, I think it’s unplayable.”

Lawrie was on the 10th green when play was stopped. Some golfers came back to the clubhouse while others parked themselves on the grass and relaxed. Lawrie headed for one of the nearby food stands and grabbed some sausage and fries.

“It was actually really nice,” he said. “It was the highlight of the day.”

GET A GRIP: K.J. Choi might want to rethink his new putting style.

He is likely to miss the cut when the second round concludes Saturday, currently tied for 108th at 6 over. While the blustery afternoon winds didn’t help, neither did his experiment with a croquet-like putting stroke. Choi averaged 1.89 putts over 36 holes, which puts him in a tie for 119th in the field of 156.

By comparison, Retief Goosen and Louis Oosthuizen had the best average of those who completed play, with 1.583 putts per hole.

OLE! OLE! OLE! Sergio Garcia is looking like a world champion.

He has added a gold star to his golf shirts to honor Spain’s first title at soccer’s World Cup. Those champions wear stars on their jersey to signify the number of titles they’ve won; Brazil’s jersey, for example, has five stars to represent the titles it won in 1958, ’62, ’70, ’94 and 2002.

Asked if he – and Spain – will be adding a second star in four years, Garcia smiled.

“We’ll see,” he said. “Some of the guys that played this year might not be there in four years.”

The World Cup title capped a banner month for Spanish sports, with Paul Gasol winning another NBA title with the Los Angeles Lakers, Rafael Nadal winning Wimbledon and defending Tour de France champion Alberto Contador contending again. Since 2000, Spain has won basketball’s world and European championships and four Davis Cup tennis titles; Nadal has captured eight Grand Slam victories; three Spanish riders have triumphed at the Tour de France; and Fernando Alonso secured two Formula One titles.

“Spanish sports have been very good for a while now,” Garcia said. “Unfortunately, I’m not keeping up with it.”