Lee Westwood says he has “no expectations” after moving into contention at the British Open on Friday and reviving hopes of him ending his long wait for a major title.
The 46-year-old, widely regarded as one of the best players to have never won one of golf’s four biggest events, fired a bogey-free second round of 67 to reach seven-under par for the tournament — just one stroke adrift of clubhouse leader J.B. Holmes.
Westwood, playing in his 25th British Open, has finished in the top three at majors nine times without getting over the line.
“I haven’t got any expectations. I’m just swinging quite well at the moment,” said the former world number one.
“I’ve had a couple of weeks of links golf where I played well and made the most of how I played, and this week it’s happening.
“It’s nice to do it at The Open Championship, it’s a big tournament and prestigious tournament and on a great golf course.”
Westwood started steadily with 11 straight pars on Friday at Royal Portrush, before making four birdies in his last seven holes to move into a tie for third with compatriot Tommy Fleetwood.
By carding rounds of 68 and 67, Westwood has started a major with back-to-back sub-70 rounds for the first time since the 2010 Masters, when he finished runner-up to Phil Mickelson.
The closest he came at the Open was in 2009 at Turnberry, when he bogeyed three of the last four holes to miss out on a playoff — where Stewart Cink beat Tom Watson — by one stroke.
– Worms in divots –
Westwood, now ranked 78th, also led by two shots heading into the final round of the 2013 Open at Muirfield, another tournament won by Mickelson.
“If you play well, you get yourself in contention at majors, you’re going to have chances,” he said.
“There’s a long way to go in this tournament. I’ve never felt under that much pressure, to be honest.
“If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. Just go home and have dinner, go on holiday the next week. Do the same things, life won’t change.”
Westwood has his girlfriend Helen Storey caddying for him this week, but says they don’t talk too much about golf while on the course.
“(We talk about) dinner. Where we’re going on holiday. Whether there’s a nail file in the bag.
“You’d be surprised the sort of things we talk about out there.
“The favourite one was from Denmark the first week she caddied for me, and I took out a divot because it was big and soft and she’s walking back with the divot like this, and I said, ‘What’s wrong?’ She said, ‘I hope there’s not a worm in this’.
“It makes me smile. It’s a big advantage.”
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