Westwood rescues title hopes

Lee Westwood’s hopes of a first US title in 12 years were almost derailed at Shell Houston Open on Saturday.

Lee Westwood’s hopes of a first US title in 12 years were almost derailed today as the Englishman endured a nightmare finish to his front nine in the third round of the Shell Houston Open.
Westwood, whose only PGA Tour victory came in New Orleans at the 1998 Freeport-McDermott Classic, had been well poised at the halfway mark after a second-round, four-under-par 68 at Redstone Golf Club in Humble, Texas, had left the 36-year-old European number one two shots behind 36-hole leader Bryce Molder of the United States.
The world number four’s third round did not go according to plan, however, after he finished his front nine with a double bogey, par, bogey and triple bogey.
Westwood, however, did well to recover on the back nine, steadying himself with birdies at the 10th, 12th and 13th before finishing with two birdies at 17 and 18 to post a level-par 72, seven under for the week and still only three shots off the 54-hole lead shared by Molder and fellow American Anthony Kim.
Another American, Joe Ogilvie, had been making a big move at the top of the leaderboard, 11 under on his back nine, four under for his round with three holes to play before a double bogey, par, bogey finish sent him back to eight under, tied for third with Vaughn Taylor.
Westwood, American Jeff Maggert and Canada’s Graham DeLaet were on seven under with Ireland’s Padraig Harrington at six under having failed to make up ground on the leaders with a level-par 72 after a rollercoaster round that featured an eagle, four birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey.
Former Open champion Justin Leonard and South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel had the rounds of the day in the clubhouse so far, both carding 67s to join Harrington and Americans Matt Kuchar and Kevin Sutherland at six under.
England’s Justin Rose bounced back from a level-par second round to shoot a 70 and move to four under alongside Sweden’s Fredrik Jacobson, who shot a 69.
World number three Phil Mickelson rebounded from a far worse second-round 76 with a 70 to get to one under while Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen’s 73 left him at even par for the week, as was Germany’s Alex Cejka (71) and Scotland’s Martin Laird, who fell away with a third-round 76.
South Africa’s Ernie Els was also going backwards having shot a 70 then a 74 in the wake of back-to-back wins in Florida at Doral and Bay Hill. Els posted a third-round 75 to slip to three over.