Lee Westwood drops shots at Ballantine’s Championship

(from BBC.co.uk)

World number one Lee Westwood had a costly finish to his opening round at the Ballantine’s Championship in Icheon, South Korea.

The 38-year-old, who regained his top spot after winning the Indonesian Masters last week, dropped three strokes in his final three holes.

It resulted in a level par round of 72 and left him six shots behind first-day leader, Irishman Damien McGrane.

McGrane had four birdies on each nine to lead a group of three by one shot.

“I putted well and I had good pace on my putts which is important to me,” said 40-year-old McGrane, whose victory in the China Open in 2008 remains his only European Tour title to date.

Westwood began his first round at the Blackstone Golf Club from the 10th tee and was progressing smoothly at three under when he took four at the 238-yard par-three seventh, finding a greenside trap after being distracted mid-swing by a camera in the gallery.

Worse followed at the ninth, a 425-yard par four, when he made a six after pulling his tee shot.

“I’m still in contention,” he said. “On the first 15 holes I played very nicely and gave myself a lot of chances without really making any putts.”

Ian Poulter also started from the 10th and began in atrocious fashion with consecutive double bogeys.

The world number 17 also collected an eagle at the first before dropping a shot at the next in a 74.

Englishman Richard Finch, the world number 226 who carded a 64 in the final round to finish 10th at the recent China Open, shares second after a bogey-free 67.

The 33-year-old, who won the 2008 Irish Open, is a shot clear of Scotsman Richie Ramsay, who had a mixture of four birdies and two bogeys in six holes on his front nine.

Miguel Angel Jimenez missed a three foot eagle chance and returned a 70, while Ernie Els, now ranked 15th, began quietly with a 73.



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