Westwood leads TPC; Woods, Mickelson well back

May 8, 2010


Ponte Vedra Beach, FL – Lee Westwood fired a seven-under 65 on Friday to move atop the leaderboard after the second round of The Players Championship.

Westwood, the runner-up at the Masters and world No. 4, finished 36 holes at 12-under 132 and is one stroke ahead at the TPC Sawgrass.

Tiger Woods shot a one-under 71 on Friday to finish two rounds at three-under 141. While he has a lot of work to do if he’s going to threaten Westwood’s lead, at least the top-ranked player in the world made the weekend.

Woods went 74-79 and missed the cut by eight strokes in what was easily one of his worst performances as a professional last week at the Quail Hollow Championship. It was his first missed cut in a non-major since the 2005 event at Disney.

On Friday, Woods started on the 10th tee and was one-under par in Nos. 11-16 with four birdies, a bogey and a double-bogey at 14. That double saw Woods try to stop his swing, but he was already too far along.

“I tried to stop it, but I was actually at a point where I was so far down that physically I couldn’t do it,” Woods said.

On the front side, Woods bogeyed the first to fall to even-par, but a birdie at the par-five second got him back to one-under for the round and three-under for the championship.

Woods parred his last seven for his 71.

“I wasn’t quite as sharp today as I was yesterday,” acknowledged Woods. “I was just hitting the ball 20 feet every hole. If I could get another five feet or so closer or 10 feet closer then those putts, you feel like you could pour all of them in.”

For the second consecutive round, Woods was matched by Masters champion Phil Mickelson. The 2007 Players champion also had a one-under 71 on Friday thanks to two birdies and a single bogey and is part of the group tied for 46th.

“It was a frustrating day,” said Mickelson. “I didn’t get it going.”

Francesco Molinari posted a seven-under 65 and is tied for second place with Ryuji Imada and Heath Slocum, who were both one stroke lower with 66s. The trio is knotted at 11-under 133.

Everyone is chasing one of the best and hottest players in the world.

Westwood has a pair of runner-ups worldwide in the 2010 season, including at Augusta National, and has four other top 20s. He missed the playoffs at the 2008 U.S. Open and 2009 British Open by a single stroke and tied for third at last year’s PGA Championship.

He started on No. 10 Friday and missed a three-foot birdie putt at the 11th. Westwood atoned for the error with a 10-foot birdie putt at the very next hole.

The Englishman hit a spectacular five-iron to three feet to set up an eagle at the par-five 16th, then Westwood rolled in a five-footer for birdie at the famous island green at 17.

Westwood hit a poor drive at 18 and had to pitch back to the fairway. He made bogey at the hole, but that kicked off an impressive run, starting at the first. Westwood holed a six-foot birdie putt at the first, two-putted for birdie at two and rolled in a four-footer for a third consecutive birdie at three.

Westwood was 11-under par for the championship and parred his next three. He took the lead with a 20-foot birdie putt at seven, but kept it thanks to a tough 12-foot par save at No. 8.

The world’s No. 4 had a chance to extend his margin, but missed from 10 feet at the ninth. Westwood will take the 36-hole lead into the weekend in search of his biggest win to date.

“As you get older, it gets harder to peak all the time when you want to,” said Westwood. “So you have to pick and choose your ones, and you want to play well in the biggest tournaments, and this is one of the biggest tournaments. It’s nice to come out the first two days and shoot 12-under and be in contention.”

Reigning U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover shot a seven-under 65 on Friday and is fifth at minus-nine.

First-round co-leader Robert Allenby (70), Charley Hoffman (68), Luke Donald (69) and Ben Crane (69) share sixth place at eight-under 136.

NOTES: The other first-round co-leader, J.B. Holmes, carded an even-par 72 in round two and is tied for 18th place at minus-six…When John Merrick birdied the 18th, that got him to two-under par and moved the 36-hole cut line to that number…Two-under par matched the lowest cut line in tournament history…Among the notable players who have the weekend off are last year’s winner Henrik Stenson, Angel Cabrera, Vijay Singh, Ian Poulter, reigning British Open champion Stewart Cink, Paul Casey, Padraig Harrington, Ernie Els, Geoff Ogilvy and last week’s winner at Quail Hollow, Rory McIlroy.

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