An impressive putting display kept Lee Westwood in sight of the Open Championship leaders on Thursday at Muirfield.
Although the Worksop golfer admitted he hadn’t played particularly well tee to green, he was delighted with his performance on the greens.
Red hot sunshine and a stiff breeze had made the putting surfaces particularly difficult, with several of Westwood’s peers complaining about pin positions. So his accuracy with the putter was all the more admirable.
Speaking after carding a one over par round of 72, Westwood said: “I didn’t hit the ball very well, I didn’t drive it very well, which accounted for most of my bogeys.”
“I putted fantastic, rolled some really nice ones in. I’ve no complaints, it could have been a lot worse than a 72.”
Striding onto the first tee in a luminous green shirt and white trousers, Westwood proceeded to find the rough with his opening drive.
But he almost holed his next shot, and a short birdie putt dropped in for the perfect start.
At the part five fifth he moved to two under, after again going close for an eagle and settling for a birdie.
But dropped shots on the par three seventh, when he missed the green and found a bunker off the tee, and on the ninth saw him back on level par.
The 11th brought a third bogey when he three putted and on 15 he let out a groan of frustration as he flopped his third shot out of the rough into the bunker, but managed to drop just one thanks to a good recovery.
The 17th, a par five, presented him with a long eagle putt that he read well but didn’t quite hole, and the subsequent birdie moved him back to one over.
A solid par at the last was greeted with a warm ovation from the stands, and Westwood was happy to sign for a 72.
“It feels like one over par is a decent score, it was tricky out there this afternoon,” he said.
American Zach Johnson leads on five under par, a shot ahead of Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello and 1998 Open champion Mark O’Meara.
Westwood is due to begin his second round at 9am on Friday.