Westwood stays on top at chilly Masters
06 Apr 2012 - 16:46:55
World No. 3 Lee Westwood, seeking his first major title in 55 attempts, remained atop the leaderboard early in Friday's second round of the Masters in cold and breezy conditions.
Westwood has finished in the top three in five of his past nine major starts and the 38-year-old Englishman hopes his strong iron play brings a breakthrough on an Augusta National layout where approach shots are often a key to victory.
"I came close recently and I have had a good career and all there is to win is a major championship and that is my primary focus now," Westwood said.
Westwood ran off four birdies in a row in a front-nine stretch Thursday on his way to a five-under par 67 and began his second round with five pars to stay atop the leaderboard at five-under as later groups prepared to tee off.
Americans Ben Crane and Jason Dufner shared second on four-under par with two US major winners, 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson and 2003 US Open winner Jim Furyk, in a group two strokes off adrift.
World No. 2 Rory McIlroy, the 22-year-old Northern Irishman tabbed as a Masters favorite, bounced back to win last year's US Open after a back-nine Sunday nightmare cost him last year's Masters.
Dufner is trying to duplicate McIlroy's feat, trying to win the Masters in his first major start after a nightmare finish led to a playoff loss to Keegan Bradley at last year's PGA Championship.
Dufner, ranked 31st, has no tour-level triumphs and his only prior Masters start came in 2010, when he shared 30th. Last year he was merely a spectator at Augusta National.
Dufner birdied the par-5 second and par-4 third, briefly matching Westwood for the lead, before a double-bogey at the par-3 fourth dropped him back and a birdie at the par-3 six boosted him back to a share of second after six holes.
Crane also birdied the second to stand on four-under through eight in chilly, windy and overcast conditions.
Johnson and Furyk each opened with a bogey, then followed with back-to-back birdies to join the mix on three-under.
Tiger Woods, the 14-time major champion chasing the record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus, opened with a 72 and will play in the day's penultimate group. He struggled off the tee on Thursday in his first competitive round since snapping a 28-month win drought last month at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
World No. 1 Luke Donald of England will be in Friday's last group after opening with a 75 and could be in a fight to make the cut, the low 44 and ties and anyone within 10 strokes of the lead after 36 holes.