July 18, 2012; St. Annes, ENGLAND; Lee Westwood during the practice round of the 2012 British Open Championship at Royal Lytham

British Open: Westwood Surges To Lead

Lee Westwood, considered the best golfer in the world without a major championship win, has taken the third-round lead at the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield Gold Links.  Westwood’s 1-under par round of 70 leaves him at 210, two strokes under Hunter Mahan and Tour #1 player Tiger Woods.

With the weight of his nation on his shoulders, the Englishman holed in a 60-foot eagle putt on the fifth hole, and held off a hard-charging Mahan who stroked a 3-under par round of 68.  Woods stayed in contention with a solid, if unspectacular round (by his standard) of 72, 1-over for the day.

The perfect, but fast greens took its toll on the golfers, as second round leader Miguel Angel Jimenez fell off the leaderboard with a 77, while playing partner Henrik Stenson salvaged a 74 to stay within four strokes of the lead.

Reigning Masters champion Adam Scott stayed in contention with a solid 70 to finish his third round at par, while Ryan Moore, Angel Cabrera, and Zach Johnson joined Stenson at 1-over par after three rounds.

Phil Mickelson and Francesco Molinari are a stroke back at 2-over par, five strokes back with one round to play.

But the drama will be focused on the 40-year Westwood, who has yet to win a Major despite finishing second or third a disappointing seven times.  With Scott winning the 2013 Masters and Justin Rose winning the 2013 U.S. Open, Westwood now carries the uncomfortable mantle of being labeled the best golfer in the world without a major championship.

Tiger Woods, on the other hand, the acknowledged best player in the world–if not ever, has his own demons to overcome, as he hasn’t won a major championship since the 2008 U.S. Open, before personal problems off the greens derailed his quest to catch Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships.

Meanwhile, the unsung player who has just as good of chance of breaking through is Mahan, who is seeking his first-ever Major.  With all eyes on Westwood and Woods in their personal quests, Mahan could sneak in and steal the limelight at the 2013 Open Championship.

Tags: British Open Hunter Mahan Lee Westwood The Open Championship Tiger Woods

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