Turning 40 suits Westwood; in The Players mix


PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Turning 40 has suited Lee Westwood just fine, thank you very much.

Oh, don’t mind that newly grown goatee. He’s not in the midst of some midlife crisis. He simply scratched his nose, lip and chin while diving into the swimming pool at his home. Welcome to South Florida living.

His golf game? That’s as consistent as ever. The Englishman had three consecutive top 10s entering The Players, including a T-4 last week in Charlotte.

That good form apparently has carried over this week to TPC Sawgrass, where he has posted three top 10s in 10 starts, but only one (2010) since 1999. At 9-under 135, Westwood is two shots off Sergio Garcia’s clubhouse lead, in a tie for third as the afternoon wave gets underway.

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“I love this golf course; always have,” he said. “It’s a golf course I always feel like I can see a way around.”

This track figures to change dramatically over the next 48 hours, however. For the better part of two rounds, players have been greeted by virtually no wind and receptive greens. But early Friday afternoon, the wind was beginning to blow, the greens firming up and getting crusty. And no rain is in the forecast until Sunday.

Said Westwood, “It will be sort of like a major championship-style mentality to go out there and play disciplined golf and not attack flags when they shouldn’t be attacked. I enjoy that kind of golf. It’s very rewarding if you play well.”