SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Reuters) – Surprise second round leader Richard Bland has an ideal game to thrive at the U.S. Open, Lee Westwood said after his fellow Englishman jumped to the top at Torrey Pines on Friday.
Both 48 but with vastly contrasting careers, Westwood trails his friend by six shots but said Bland’s lofty position was no fluke even though he was in uncharted territory.
Bland, playing only his second U.S. Open, gave Westwood and Justin Rose credit for helping him learn how to negotiate Torrey Pines. “I got some good info off Lee on Monday and Rosey on Wednesday,” he said after shooting 67 for a five-under-par 137 halfway total.
The self-deprecating Westwood chuckled when told of that shoutout and said there was not much information he needed to give when the pair played a practice round on Monday.
“He’s clearly playing very well. He’s got a steady game, doesn’t miss many fairways, ideally suited to a U.S. Open set-up really,” Westwood told Reuters.
“U.S. Opens are fairly simple, aren’t they? Hit as many fairways and greens as you can. Don’t make double bogeys because they’re a killer. Try and scramble and take advantage of the birdie putts when you have them.”
Bland broke through last month to win the British Masters, his first European Tour victory in 478 starts.
Former world No. 1 Westwood is contesting his 20th U.S. Open and finished a shot out of the Tiger Woods-Rocco Mediate playoff here in 2008.
He said he was “pretty pleased” with his round on Friday, even though he could not convert any of several excellent birdie opportunities, making 17 pars and a bogey in a steady 72.
The only putt of note Westwood holed all day was a 40-footer for par at the par-five 13th.
“I putted well all day, ran the ball at the hole well and felt like I got unlucky on a few putts so it was nice that that one (on 13) went in,” he said.
“(A) one-over (total) feels like it’s in there. There’s always a lot of strange things go on at the weekend of a major, especially a U.S. Open.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)