Open Golf: Westwood holds advantage ahead of final day

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The Englishman will enter tomorrow in pole position to win his first major

Lee Westwood will enter the final day of the 142nd Open Championship with a two shot lead over Tiger Woods and Hunter Mahan as he bids to win his first major at Muirfield.

The Englishman shot a one-under-par round of 70 this afternoon which included three birdies and a sensational eagle on the par-5 fifth – holing a 40-feet putt from off the green.

Following back-to-back bogeys at the 8th and 9th, Westwood began the back nine in solid fashion, making four consecutive pars before a birdie at 14 to move four shots clear of his playing partner Woods.

However, arguably the most significant score on Westwood’s card was the bogey he made on the par-3 16th. Having found trouble from the tee to the left of the green, he failed to chip the ball from the rough and on the second attempt left the ball 20-feet short of the hole. 

Nevertheless, the former world number one showed solid composure to drain the putt for a thoroughly excellent save.

Buoyed by that display of nerve on the 16th , Westwood made another birdie on 17 and produced two excellent putts from the front edge of the 18th green to maintain a slender advantage over the chasers as the championship heads towards a thrilling finale.

Hot on Westwood’s heels is current world number one Tiger Woods, who led the championship for a brief interlude following an early birdie at the second. However, Tiger’s round slipped away towards its conclusion after he conceded a two shot lead to Westwood following a disappointing bogey at the 17th.
Woods: I’ve got 14 of these things, and I know what it takes to win it. There’s a bunch of guys who have a chance to win this tournament. Woods has never won a major championship without holding the clubhouse lead after 54-holes, yet remains positive that he can still gain his 15th major here at Muirfield.

I’m pleased where I’m at, and  I’m only two back, and there’s only one guy ahead of me,” he said.

“I’ve got 14 of these things, and I know what it takes to win it. There’s a bunch of guys who have a chance to win this tournament. And all of us need to really play well tomorrow to win,” Woods added.

Joining Woods on one-under-par is his fellow American Hunter Mahan, who will play with Westwood in the final pairing tomorrow. He jointly carded the best round of the day (68) to take the clubhouse lead ahead of the final few groups, somewhat slipping quietly under the radar with all eyes firmly on Woods and Westwood.

Yet Mahan firmly believes he can secure his first major win tomorrow. “I feel comfortable with my game and excited about the opportunity. I just have to go out there and trust it and let it happen,” he said.

After a heartache finish at Lytham last year, Adam Scott moved into fourth position and will have an outside chance should the leaders falter tomorrow afternoon.

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