Some may question whether he deserves the ranking, but Lee Westwood has performed like the world’s No. 1 player for the first two days of the WGC-HSBC Championship.
The Englishman shot 66-70 and is alone in second place at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai. Although Westwood is one shot behind leader Francesco Molinari, he had the best score of the four players battling for No. 1. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are four under heading into the weekend, and Martin Kaymer of Germany is three under.
Westwood nearly missed the HSBC Champions due to a calf injury that affects his ankle, which has kept him off the course since the Dunhill Links Championship in early October.
For the first two rounds, Westwood was paired with Mickelson and Y.E Yang, who won the HSBC in 2006. It’s been the second most attention-grabbing group of the first two days, followed by nearly a thousand spectators on Friday.
They’ve played like the leading group so far. Westwood, Mickelson and Yang shot a combined 13 under, second only to Kyung-tae Kim, Ben Crane and Molinari, the leader.
If Westwood can keep it going this weekend, he’ll extend his advantage in the world ranking.
Frustrated Tiger: Friday was an up-and-down day for Tiger Woods. He made five birdies and five bogeys on the way to his even-par 72. He was obviously disappointed, and his temper flared on the 18th tee, where he kicked his driver after a hooked tee shot. He made four bogeys in the last 10 holes.
“Today I struggled a little bit,” Woods said. “Didn’t hit it very good and had a couple three putts.”
Hole-in-One: Australian Richard Green had a hole-in-one in the second round at the 200-yard fourth hole. It’s the third hole-in-one in the tournament’s history, and the first on No. 4. Kenneth Ferrie and Ernie Els aced No. 6 in 2006 and 2009, also in the second round.
Tough Going for Local Favorites: The Chinese players could not have done much worse in the first two rounds.
As the host country, China got four spots for the event, but no one has been able to break par so far. Liang Wenchong, China’s leading player, shot 79-73 and is tied for 71st with Wu Kangchun. Yuan Hao is tied for 75th after shooting 79-75, and Li Chao is dead last with 79-79. If there were a cut, no Chinese player would be playing this weekend.
“We must face it,” said Liang. “I played fairly bad, and it’s still a large gap between us and the world’s top players.”