by Jeff Skinner
It wasn’t quite Turnberry in ’77 but with the sun shining over the links of Muirfield at The Open Championship and Lee Westwood and Tiger Woods battling it out for the lead, it was a fairly good reproduction.
In a strange switching of personas Westwood was the clutch putter while Woods made the errors coming down the stretch. Westwood’s putting has improved dramatically and it showed with an amazing putt for eagle from off the green at five and a clutch birdie on seventeen that gave him a two shot lead over Woods who took a bogey there.
Westwood had received a tip from Ian Baker-Finch that has Westwood swinging the putter more freely and rolling the ball like he never has before. He’ll need more of the same if he is to collect his first major championship tomorrow.
Westwood will be paired with Hunter Mahan in the final group tomorrow and both have plenty of experience being there. Mahan watched Phil Mickelson choke away the U.S. Open at Merion and Westwood has seven top three finishes in major championships.
Second round leader, Miguel Angel Jimenez struggled to a six over 77 as many players struggled over the crisp links.
Mahan had the best round of the day at three under 68 (so did Sergio) and managed two birdies in his final four holes to pull to one under and get in the final group.
Phil Mickelson had it to one under and a sniff of the lead but three bogeys down the stretch killed his Saturday chances.
The leaderboard is stacked with big and popular names but of the 17 players within six shots of the lead twelve of them are trying for their first major. And none of them have a better chance than longtime “Best Player Without a Major” Lee Westwood.
Westwood will have a distinct “home field advantage” tomorrow…and he just may need it.