Westwood gives himself a chance

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Lee Westwood’s bid for a first major victory is still alive after a well-played two-under-par 68 on Friday.

Lee Westwood’s bid for a first major victory is still alive after a well-played two-under-par 68 on Friday.

The world number two started the day on one over par, and finished the day one under and in 15th place, six shots off Steve Stricker’s lead – though the American was yet to start his second round.

It was another sweltering day at Atlanta Athletic Club, and Westwood looked suitably drained after he finished what was a slow round of golf.

Asked about the speed of play, he joked: “The last thing I wanted today was to move quicker!”

Westwood’s said before the tournament started that his strategy was going to be to try to relax and enjoy his golf in an effort to take some of the pressure of chasing that elusive first major win off.

“It’s hard,” he said. “It’s difficult to try your hardest and not care about the results. They contradict one another.

“But I’m breezing around out there and trying to smile whenever I can and not really worry about what’s going on too much.

“I think that’s why after bogeying two and three I came back with birdies on four and five (and seven). Maybe the ‘trying too hard’ me would have bogeyed the next after that.”

The biggest trouble of the day for the Englishman came at the 457-yard 11th, his second hole of the day, where he found the water, though he got out of it with only a bogey.

Consecutive birdies followed at the 12th and 13th, before he parred his way to the turn.

His back nine was a topsy-turvy affair, with four birdies and three bogeys, though he was ultimately satisfied with his effort on Friday.

“When you see seven under is leading your are under pressure,” said Westwood.

“But I said at the start of the week that I thought six under was going to win and it.”

When the day ended some time later, Westwood would find himself even better off than he thought he would.

With the leading score down to 5-under, he was now just four off the pace being set by journeyman Jason Dufner and rookie Keegan Bradley as the championship heads into the weekend.

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