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Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter out to end British drought

By Larry Fine

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Lee Westwood knows he will probably see the best of fellow Briton Ian Poulter when they tee off for Saturday's third round of the U.S. Masters as co-leaders.

Westwood and Poulter, Ryder Cup team mates and friends off the course, reached the halfway mark of the year's first major tied at eight-under-par 136.

Despite the camaraderie, Poulter, who posted a second successive 68 on Friday, said he had a score to settle with Westwood, who took some money off him the last time they played.

"Yeah, he would remember that," world number four Westwood told reporters in response. "Every pound is a prisoner to him."

The British duo have five players bunched two shots behind, including Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson as they look to take the next step toward ending Britain's 14-year drought at the U.S. Masters following Nick Faldo's 1996 victory.

Poulter, who this year became the first Englishman to win a World Golf Championship event at the WGC-Accenture, has climbed to seventh in world rankings.

"To be playing Augusta was in my dreams, and to be sitting at the top of the leaderboards was in my dreams, as well," Poulter said.

Westwood, winner of last year's Dubai World Championship and the European Order of Merit, thinks his time has come.

"It's the only thing really missing in my career," said Westwood, who shot 69 despite a double-bogey at the par-four 14th and a bogey at the last. "I've won everywhere around the world and money lists and here in the States.

"Obviously it would mean a lot to win a major championship. I've come close over the last couple of years, three third-place finishes and I know I've got the game and I know I've got the temperament. It's just going that one step further and finishing."

Westwood said Britain's lack of a major winner since Paul Lawrie at the 1999 British Open obscured the recent rise to prominence of his country's golfers, including number six Paul Casey.

"We're not up at the top of the world rankings by mistake, you know," Westwood said. "We ought to be contending in these major championships, in these biggest events where the best players should contend."

Westwood said he was looking forward to Saturday's third round with friend Poulter.

"I suppose it helps a little bit because we get on pretty well but I don't think it has much effect," Westwood said. "We won't be cracking jokes on each other's back swings. Or maybe not."

(Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Ian Ransom)