Brilliant Westwood scorches into 11-shot lead
Lee Westwood has assembled all the pieces needed to win a cherished major and put the 'whole package' on show again at the US$1 million Thailand Golf Championship yesterday.
Westwood called his 11-shot lead 'outrageous', caddie Billy Foster said his boss was 'frighteningly good' and the fat lady was already singing at the Amata Spring Country Club. The world No3 followed up his opening-day, 12-under-par 60 with an equally brilliant eight-under 64 in tougher conditions to make a one-horse race of the Asian Tour season finale.
Only this year's Masters winner, Charl Schwartzel, and unknown US PGA Tour player Michael Thompson made any late headway, both shooting six-under-par 66 to share second at nine under. John Daly (73) dropped to fourth at six under.
'That's outrageous,' Westwood said of the lead that was 14 shots over Daly when he completed his round. 'This is the biggest lead I've ever had. And I'm a notoriously slow starter, but it's not over until the fat lady sings.'
Westwood headed to the gym after his round as he adds muscle to the machine that has produced 36 professional victories but with one glaring omission - a major championship.
He was twice runner-up last year - in the Masters and the British Open - and says he has found the formula to give it an even better shot next year.
Acknowledging a few years ago that he was overweight, 38-year-old Westwood said he needed no motivation to lift weights. 'I want to go. I've seen the benefits. Being a golfer is about the whole package. It's not just one or two things. You can't afford to have any weaknesses.
'My putting has been brilliant over the first two days. My ball striking is as good as it's been all year and I'm working on my fitness with regard to next year and being in great shape and competing in the major championships.'
Caddie Foster loved being along for the ride again and said: 'In all my 30 years caddying, these two rounds are the best I've seen from anybody. It's frightening how good he is.' Westwood won the Nedbank Challenge in Sun City, South Africa, two weeks ago and victory tomorrow would make it four for the season after triumphs in Indonesia and South Korea.
His 20-under-par two-round total equalled the Asian Tour record set by Chapchai Nirat at the Sail Open in India two years ago. The Thai went on to win by 11 strokes at 32-under-par.
Schwartzel will start in the third round with Westwood and try to do the improbable. 'I feel like Lee is playing his own tournament and we are playing something else. I still feel I have an outside chance. I need to.'