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Friday, 19 July 2013
Lee Westwood   (Getty Images)
Lee Westwood (Getty Images)
England's Lee Westwood made his move on the second day of The 142nd Open Championship with five birdies on his front nine to surge into contention.

Overnight watering of the rapidly-drying Muirfield greens, aided by some dawn mist which was quickly burned off by bright sunshine again, provided some assistance to the early starters.

The 40 year old seized the opportunity and, having declared he was most happy with his putting in yesterday's one over 71, he proved it was not all talk with two opening birdies, holing from ten feet at the second.

It would have been even better had he not rolled his birdie attempt at the third past the hole from 12 feet and after dumping his tee shot at the 226 yard fourth into a bunker he splashed out to five feet to save par.

With the wind having changed direction the 559 yard fifth - where yesterday South African Justin Harding recorded a drive of 378 yards - was playing much tougher and Westwood had to hit driver-driver to reach the green.

His ball ended up in a bunker but he splashed out to within 12 feet for another birdie, holed from 15 feet at the next and two-putted the par five downwind ninth to reach four under having gone out in 31.

That was one behind leader Zach Johnson, who did not tee off until 3.07pm.

World Number One Tiger Woods had looked ominously confident off the tee but ironically his putting, usually considered his strength, was the problem.

Twice he three-putted for bogey, once from the front of the fourth and the other at eight, to undo the birdies secured by a 15 foot putt at the third and getting down from 70 feet at the par five fifth - which he reached with two perfectly-struck three wood shots.

Scotland's Martin Laird began the day one under and going out in 37 to drop to even par he birdied the first three holes after the turn to move to three under.

Sweden's Henrik Stenson, the third round leader at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open last week, got himself to two under through 13 holes after a fluctuating round of three birdies and a double bogey six.

Westwood has been working on his putting with 1991 Open Champion Ian Baker-Finch, with The Ryder Cup star and former World Number One describing having a "lightbulb moment" under the Australia's tutelage.

And with the quality of his iron play - which he felt was not up to scratch yesterday - improving, he soon notched up his sixth birdie of the day.

His approach to the 12th finished just three feet from the pin as he took a share of the lead with Johnson at five under.

But the inconsistencies returned to haunt him at the 190 yard 13th as he came up well short of the flag and three-putted for a bogey four.

Laird bogeyed the 14th to drop to two under, which was the same score as Woods, who escaped with par after racing an 85 foot birdie effort 18 feet past at the tenth.

Westwood found heavy rough off the 14th tee and could only reach the green in three, and after sending his 30 foot par effort sailing past, he did well to hole coming back to drop his first shot of the day.

Woods' touch around the greens appeared to have deserted him as, having come up short at the 11th, fired his birdie attempt 18 feet past to bogey and drop to one under.

Westwood's luck also appeared to have run out as he smashed a driver about 390 yards down the 15th fairway - which would have been fine had it not run into the bunker guarding the approach to the green.

It left him with a tricky 40 yard shot from the sand but he got it within 15 feet and two-putted for par.

The Englishman missed the green at the short 16th but still got down in two.

Stenson, who dropped a shot at the 15th, birdied the par five 17th to get back to two under, which is the score he posted for the early clubhouse lead.

Meanwhile, Spain's Miguel Angel Jiménez moved to within one shot of Johnson's five under lead at his second hole after hitting an approach to three feet.

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