Westwood battles back after water torture

Westwood battles back after water torture

Defending champion Lee Westwood, much to the annoyance of the “raging” promoter and BBC Television, had to wait until 4.05pm to resume the Quinn Insurance British Masters at The Belfry today.

And Westwood himself was hardly in the best of moods when he then bogeyed his first three holes and dropped from joint leader to joint 14th in the fog-delayed event.

Holing a bunker shot for an eagle three and then making a 20-foot birdie putt re-ignited his bid, though, and when play was called off for the day the Ryder Cup star was only one behind joint leaders Mikael Lundberg, Jeev Milkha Singh and Alejandro Canizares.

As on Friday it was mid-morning before the fog cleared and 1.30pm before the second round was completed.

Both promoter Andrew Chandler – also Westwood’s manager – and BBC Sport executive producer Paul Davies argued for a shotgun start to get the leaders back on the course as soon as possible.

But after discussions with Tour chief executive George O’Grady, chief referee John Paramor said: “We’ve had the request before and it’s never been entertained because it’s not professional tournament golf.

“It just does not happen except in pro-ams. In serious tournament golf, no.

“It’s very difficult for the public to understand where the players are and there is no correlation between where they are and how many holes to go.

“The score means nothing until everybody is finished. And we are pretty confident that players would not like to be drawn to start on certain holes.”

With that request rejected, however, another from TV was agreed to, namely that Westwood, joint halfway leader Alexander Noren and all their nearest challengers start on the 10th hole rather than the first.

With the tee moved forward that meant they were immediately confronted by a decision whether to try for the 230-yard carry into the wind on the reachable par four.

Of the first 36 players Westwood was one of only five who went for the green - but he was slightly left of target and found the water.

Three-putting the next and then failing to get up and down from the rough at the short 12th put a huge dent into his hopes of retaining the title.

However, an eagle came at the 17th and a birdie on the 411-yard first and he had a 10 foot putt at the next to join the lead again when sirens calling off the action were sounded.

South African Charl Schwartzel was the first to take over at the top, grabbing seven birdies in nine holes for a spectacular back nine of 29.

The 24-year-old then went in the water for a double bogey six at the fourth and just had time to complete a 66.

He was the early clubhouse leader, but also on six under were Westwood, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Michael Campbell and Ross Fisher.

Earlier Darren Clarke had just failed in a brilliant attempt to make the halfway cut.

An opening 80 on Thursday had left Clarke down in joint 136th place in the 144-strong field, but, needing a 67, he missed by one when a putt from the fringe of the final green trickled past the edge of the cup.

Clarke, controversially left out of last week’s Ryder Cup by captain Nick Faldo despite his great record in the match and two wins this season, said: “Missing the cut is not what I wanted, but I didn’t want to go to Scotland next week on the back of another bad round.”

Before turning his thoughts to the Dunhill Links Championship, however, Clarke had another important occasion to get to – his son Conor’s eighth birthday party.

Liverpool’s Nick Dougherty, so close to earning a Ryder Cup debut, had high hopes of moving into contention after his opening 70, but a nightmare finish to his second round sent him out of the tournament as well.

One under with three to play, Dougherty bogeyed the 16th and 17th, then crashed to a quadruple bogey eight on the last. He missed by two as a result.

Graeme McDowell, the only other member of Nick Faldo’s side in the event, had survived right on the limit of three over.

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