February 23 2011
MARANA, Ariz. -- Lee Westwood never trailed in his match with Henrik Stenson on Wednesday during the first round of the world Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship.
The world No. 1 never felt secure either, though, until the 3-and-2 victory was in the books.
After all, Westwood doesn't exactly have a stellar record in the event after never advancing past the second round. Not to mention, he knows his good friend can be a formidable opponent.
"He's a bit of a false 65 in the world," Westwood explained. "When he's on his game, he's the top 10 in the world. I knew going out there it was going to be a tough game. It wasn't the highest quality game on the front nine. I don't think the golf course and the pin positions and the wind was really helping. I made four birdies around the back nine which is going to win you a few holes.
"I'm delighted to be through and tie my record for the game, as well. I'm not packing on a (Wednesday) night so I'm delighted."
Westwood gained the early edge as Stenson double bogeyed the first hole. But he made three bogeys of his own in a four-hole stretch that started on No. 4 and the two made the turn all square.
A birdie at the eighth hole finally seemed to wake Westwood from the doldrums. He added three more on the back nine to keep the pressure on Stenson and closed him out when the Swede three-putted the 16th hole.
Westwood's opponent in the second round is American Nick Watney, who has tied for sixth, fifth and sixth in his three stroke-play starts this season. Watney beat Anthony Kim 5 and 4 in the first round.
Given his history in this tournament, Westwood is hardly looking ahead, though.
"Every day is a bonus," Westwood said. "See how it goes. I'm pretty pragmatic about it after ten years. I think it will be a bonus.” – Helen Ross