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March 28 2013

4:40 PM

Westwood stumbles, still shoots 68

By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

HUMBLE, Texas -- Two balls in the water at the eighth hole. Another bogey on the front.

And, before you ask, neither one had anything to do with the wind that was snapping around every corner at Redstone Thursday morning.

 It was all Lee Westwood.

“Operator error? No. It was the organ grinder,’’ he said grinning.

What else could he do?

What should have been at worst a 66 turned into an opening 4-under 68, so it was hard to complain too much. Unless you count the grumbling about his lousy par-5 play this year.

“I must have the worst par 5s of anyone this year,’’ said Westwood, who tied for eighth at the 2010 Shell Houston Open. “It was like dropping four shots really. A 68 is as high has I could have shot.’’

A run of three birdies at 12, 13 and 14 righted things just a bit, but Westwood was still a bit miffed. He’s been hard at work on his short game all year and these little blips keep popping up.

“I don’t know whether I’m trying to be too aggressive or what," he said. "I suppose it goes in spells like that. It’s not like they were two really bad shots on the par 5s, really."

Just bad enough that his short game had to save the day for bogey.

“My short game and pitching are really good, so there’s no reason why the par-5 scoring shouldn’t sharpen up,’’ he said.

Hopefully, he said, in time for the Masters. Westwood plans to take next week off, then head to Augusta, play an 18-hole practice round Monday, then nine holes each the next two days to ease into the year’s first major.

And take advantage of his putter the way he did in the opening round.

He made four putts of 10 feet or longer -- and a tough chip at 17, which settled in just 7 feet away, which bodes well for this week, not just the Masters.

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