Augusta, Ga. – In search of his first major title, Lee Westwood returned to the course at the Masters on Friday, a day that felt more like a British Open.
Heading to the tee box for his morning tee time, Westwood was greeted by blustery winds and temperatures in the 50s (low teens C) -- a stark contrast to the warm opening day when he shot 5-under-par 67 to take a one-shot lead over Louis Oosthuizen and Peter Hanson.
Oosthuizen had one of the first tee times on Friday and made double bogey on No. 2 to quickly fall down the leaderboard.
Ben Crane, meanwhile, birdied the par-5 second to move to 4 under. There was a six-way tie at 3 under that included 2007 champion Zach Johnson and Scotland's Paul Lawrie, the 1999 British Open champion who probably felt at home in these conditions.
Teeing off later were Tiger Woods (even), Phil Mickelson (2 over) and Rory McIlroy (1 under).
Westwood, the world's third-ranked player and one of the best to never win a major, certainly looked comfortable as he opened his quest on Thursday.
He made four straight birdies on Nos. 5 through 8 and didn't face a putt of more than 10 feet on any of them.
He took the lead after the first round of a major for the first time in his career.
"I figured if I drive the ball well, which I generally do, then I'm going to have a chance to get it close to flags and from there, it's just an issue of how many putts I hole," he said.
He made it look as easy as it sounds. He knows as well as anyone, though, that it's always easier on a Thursday.
Westwood has six top-three finishes since 2008. At Augusta two years ago, he was the leader heading into the final round. On that day, he three-putted the ninth green to lose the lead and ended up as a bit player while Mickelson won his third green jacket.
Westwood's methods after all these close calls?
"When you're in contention and don't finish it off, you go home and assess what you didn't do and what you can improve," he said. "And that's what I did."