Westwood climbs toward 36-hole lead


GULLANE, Scotland – There is a new swing coach (Sean Foley) and another putting guru (Ian Baker-Finch) in tow, but at the end of a windswept day it seemed it was Lee Westwood’s attitude that landed him a spot near the lead at the 142nd Open.

The Englishman blazed out early Friday, going 6 under through his first 12 holes, to grab a share of the clubhouse lead at Muirfield at 2 under. For a man who has endured his share of major heartbreak it was as simple as embracing the moment.

“This is the biggest tournament of the year for me, being a Brit, and it being played in Britain,” said Westwood, who bogeyed three of his last six holes but still signed for a 68. “Why not enjoy it out there? It’s tough for everybody. So smile your way through.”

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Westwood has not always had much to smile about in his quest to shed the title “Best Player Without a Major.” He has near-misses at every major, including a back-nine 38 on Sunday at the 2008 U.S. Open to miss making it into a playoff by one stroke.

Always considered one of the game’s top ball-strikers, Westwood recently began working with South Florida neighbor Baker-Finch on his putting and the tonic has been as simple as “getting the tension out of his arms.”

Through two rounds at Muirfield that has resulted in a 1.53 putting average (the field average is 1.78) and another chance to end major drought.