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.”
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.