A stunning hole-in-one helped Lee Westwood surge into contention for the CIMB Classic at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club on Friday.
Westwood needed a hybrid club on the 226-yard 11th hole, but saw his perfectly-struck tee shot land 10 feet from the pin and roll inexorably into the hole.
“Well that was a pretty special day,” he posted on Twitter. “It’s not often you see them go in from 226 yds!”
The 41-year-old, who won the Maybank Malaysian Open on the same course on the European Tour in April, had already picked up three birdies on the front nine and added more on the 16th and 18th to complete a flawless 65.
That took the former world number one to seven under par and three shots behind halfway leader Billy Hurley, who recorded his second consecutive 67.
Fellow American Kevin Streelman was two shots back after two rounds of 68, with Westwood sharing third place with playing partner and Ryder Cup team-mate Sergio Garcia, Korea’s Noh Seung-yul and American quartet Jeff Overton, Ryan Moore, Kevin Na and Kevin Chappell.
Garcia needed three more shots than Westwood to complete the 11th and also bogeyed the ninth, but recorded six birdies to add a 68 to his opening 69.
Speaking after his round, Westwood told reporters he was unsure how many times he had recorded a hole-in-one in his career.
“I actually don’t know exactly,” Westwood said. “Someone asked me walking to the green how many I thought I’d had. I think somewhere around 14. I’m not sure.
“You remember the ones that you won something for. I had a hole-in-one in Germany once and won a bar of gold, and that’s the only time I’ve ever won anything. Occasionally there’s been a bottle of champagne for a hole-in-one. I remember pretty much where all of them are, but I’m sure I’ve forgotten one or two.
“You need a bit of luck, but at the same time you gotta hit it well and straight, so it happens now and again. I was aiming towards 20 feet left of the hole and trying to hit a bit of a high cut because it was just too much club. It just came out perfect.
“And I went back out after the rain delay and birdied two of the last three and had a really good chance at 17 as well, so I’m pleased with the way I finished and 65 has got me right into the tournament.”