Size still everything as Woosnam keeps long putter

Ian Woosnam restored some of his battered pride after going back on his promise to return to a short putter in the first round of the Celtic Manor Wales Open today.

Ian Woosnam restored some of his battered pride after going back on his promise to return to a short putter in the first round of the Celtic Manor Wales Open today.

Woosnam had spoken on the eve of the event of his determination to conquer his putting problems with a standard length club, despite admitting he was at the ‘lowest ebb’ of his 27-year career following a second round 82 at Wentworth last week.

World number three Ernie Els called for ‘belly’ and ’broomhandle’ putters to be banned last month, ironically at the same tournament where recent convert and compatriot Trevor Immelman won, by one shot from Padraig Harrington.

Woosnam admitted on Wednesday: “I feel like it is not part of golf.

“I think it is part of the mind battle and I want to beat it. I feel I have given in having to use it. The feeling of putting with the short one is terrible but I would rather putt with a short one if I possibly can.

“If it means missing a lot of cuts, that’s what I’m going to do.”

But after missing the cut by 10 shots at the PGA Championship as he struggles to make changes to his address position, Woosnam seemed to have decided he had enough problems with his long game to also have to worry about missing short putts.

The long putter was back in the bag in near perfect conditions in Newport this morning therefore, and helped Woosnam to a round of 71, one under par, at his home tournament.

The Welshman saved par from five feet on the 18th after two previous birdies and one bogey.

That was two shots better than playing partner Lee Westwood, who fired three birdies but four bogeys in a 73, but five off the early pace set by Germany’s Marcel Siem.

Siem, who won his maiden tour title in South Africa earlier this year, began with birdies at the first two holes and added five more with just one bogey to card a six under par 66 over the Wentwood Hills course which, after some changes, will host the 2010 Ryder Cup.

Graeme McDowell was the best of the Irish so far, carding a 73.

66 Marcel Siem (Ger)

69 Martin Maritz (Rsa), Sven Struver (Ger), Peter Hanson (Swe), Miguel Angel Martin (Spa)

70 Warren Bennett

71 Richard Sterne (Rsa), Martin Erlandsson (Swe), Gary Evans, Mark Foster

72 Jarmo Sandelin (Swe), Ricardo Gonzalez (Arg)

73 Lee Thompson, Richard McEvoy, Ivo Giner (Spa), Paul Marantz (Aus), Peter Fowler (Aus), Jean-Francois Lucquin (Fra), Craig Williams, Kenneth Ferrie, Graeme McDowell (Irl), David Park

74 Ben Mason

75 Costantino Rocca (Ita)

76 Tom Whitehouse

77 Ian Harrison

78 Wade Ormsby (Aus)

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