When Rory McIlroy done his approach to the scorers hovel after his overwhelming feat at Quail Hollow on Sunday, he done a witty taunt towards Lee Westwood, who was there to honour him.
Thats how you close out a tournament, McIlroy pronounced with a smile, playfully referring (it is to be assumed) to his friends near-miss at the Masters last month when he accomplished as runner-up to Phil Mickelson.
Friends or not, the Northern Irishman risked relocating in to dangerous territory. But whilst Westwood competence have been prone to remind McIlroy of the spanking he gave him at the Dubai World Championship last year when he not only kick his immature rival, but stole the European Tours initial Race to Dubai from underneath his nose he has left it to The Players Championship instead.
As McIlroy, appetite spent, was blank the cut at Sawgrass yesterday, Westwood was heading the approach in one of the majority prestigious events in the game.
With a turn of 65, he changed to the tip of the leaderboard on twelve underneath par, one shot forward of Francesco Molinari, of Italy, Ryuji Imada, of Japan, and Heath Slocum, of the United States. McIlroy finished the day thirteen strokes behind, after a 72, whilst Tiger Woods will go in to the third turn trailing by nine, alongside Phil Mickelson.
It goes but observant that McIlroys success has spurred Westwood on. The dual share the same manager, in Andrew Chubby Chandler, and each is dynamic to be the cock o the travel in that sold fast of players. And, even though there is a 16-year age opening in between them, they cheerfully breeze each other up afar from the march and appear to be pushing each alternative on when they are on it. Westwood is No 4 in the world, McIlroy is No 9.
With a arrangement of excellence, Westwood showed just because he is ranked so highly. Over the primitive and visually overwhelming Stadium Course, the Englishman gave a masterclass of strokeplay golf.
His pushing was prolonged and accurate, his iron fool around was precise, and his putting was assured. He frequency longed for a fairway, found sixteen greens in law and single-putted eight of them together with a putt of 19ft for birdie at the 7th and an similarly critical one of about 10ft to save standard at the 8th.
In his initial turn of 67 on Thursday, Westwood hardly done a inapplicable designation and dropped a singular shot. His second turn was even better. Starting at the 10th, he done his initial birdie at the 12th and afterwards went on a run of scoring from the 16th in he that picked up five shots in 6 holes and done the game see simple.
In total, he had 6 birdies, an eagle and a unique bogey, and looked similar to a man who could do no wrong. It was a bit of a down time [for me] after the Masters, meditative about finishing second, pronounced Westwood, who has had top-three finishes in each of his past 3 vital championships. It was a good result, but patently I would have favourite to have won. This is the subsequent real big contest on my radio detector and the great to come out in the initial dual days and fire twelve underneath and be in contention.
For the newness worth alone, the shot of the day belonged to Woods. It came at the par-four 14th and left those who witnessed it speechless. With a three-wood that he had selected for accuracy, the turn set off at a 45-degree angle prior to anticipating a H2O jeopardy so far right of the fairway that it could not be seen from the tee. In fact, it was a pool that belonged to the 12th hole. And it was to cost him dual shots.
In the event, the universe No 1 had a pick-and-mix turn of 71 that enclosed five birdies, dual bogeys and a stand in bogey. It was not flattering but, on 3 under par, he had at slightest avoided his second cut in unbroken weeks.
Molinaris preference not to fool around at home in the Italian Open this week looks to have been a great one. A splendidly means and correct player, he suited Westwoods 65 and, majority impressively, did not miss a immature in law and did not dump a shot.
There was a great round, too, for Graeme McDowell, whose 65 changed him to 7 under standard a symbol common by Luke Donald with dual holes to fool around but there was beating for Padraig Harrington and Justin Rose, who both longed for the cut.