Friday, 19 March 2010

Reuters - A double bogey on his penultimate hole slowed down Lee Westwood but the Englishman was still happy with his first round at the 89th USPGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club.

The 34 year old from Worksop, who had four birdies at steamy Southern Hills, posted a one under par 69 to move within two shots of early leader John Daly.

The double bogey came at the 245 yard, par three eighth where Westwood pushed his tee shot into a bunker, hit out 40 feet past the hole and three putted for a five.

"Three under would have been better than one under but you are not going to do too much damage with a 69 around here," he said. "If somebody offered me four 69s I'd bite their hand off.
"I had chances to shoot a 65 here, there were chances on one and three between eight and ten feet."

Early starter Westwood, who teed off at the tenth, said his biggest trouble was dealing with sweaty palms that made his glove sweaty as temperatures hit 100 degrees (38 Celsius).

"It's pretty hot but if you don't let the conditions get to you it's playable," he said. "Keep in the shade and drink lots of water."
Westwood, whose best result in the event was a tie for 15th in 2000, won in Spain in May but has not had a top ten finish since.

"I've played pretty well since the start of the year in Asia and Europe, played pretty steadily without doing too much and got myself into position and not capitalised on it," he said.

Sergio Garcia, eager to bury the disappointment of last month's Open, was satisfied after opening with a level par 70. Despite bogeying the last two holes, the 27 year old Spaniard ended the first round three strokes behind Daly.

"It was just a shame, those bogeys on the last two. I misread both putts. But overall it was not a bad round. I got off to a great start and I missed three good birdie chances on 14, 15 and 16 so I could have been easily four or five under through seven.

"Then there's some tough holes coming out and I made a couple of bad bogeys here and there. I recovered nicely, though, and then unfortunately I just didn't have a great finish."

Garcia, beaten by Irishman Padraig Harrington in a play-off for The Open at Carnoustie, reeled off three successive birdies from the par three 11th before bogeying the 17th.

Out in two under 33, he dropped another shot at the fourth and birdied the fifth before his bogey bogey finish.

Garcia said the round had been slow going with temperatures peaking at around 100 degrees (38 degrees Celsius). 

"The heat definitely affects you because you're constantly sweating," the six time European Tour winner added.

"You have to dry yourself, your arms, your hands and the grip and everything and 15 seconds later you're sweating again. It's not easy and it takes a lot of time to get ready."

Garcia's group, which also included last year's US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy and 2006 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Lehman, was put on the clock for slow play after seven holes.

"It was mainly because of the things I've been telling you about, having to dry yourself and everything" he said.

Sweden’s Niclas Fasth opened with a one over par 71 but expressed disappointment with his score. Fasth, who enjoyed a top ten finish in the US Open in June, said: “I feel that I left a good score out there. My driving and putting weren’t good enough.

“I enjoy the Majors. I think if I can get under par for the weekend that would be a good target to help me get into contention.”

England’s Luke Donald and South African Ernie Els both finished on 72, two over par, with Welshman Bradley Dredge, the first man out, carded an opening round of 73.

Els praised the Southern Hills course and observed: “The set up is perfect. If you miss a shot in the rough you have a 50 per cent chance of recovering, but in the same breath there is a chance of making a double bogey.”

Donald insisted that the temperatures didn’t disturb his concentration. “I’m not too bothered. I played in hotter at the Walker Cup at Sea Island” he said. “I am still encouraged. If I keep playing like this then the putts might start to drop.”

Dredge commented: “I had it relatively cool today so I don’t know what it’s going to be like at 12.45 when I tee off tomorrow! I didn’t play well enough to make a decent score today.”


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