The PLAYERS: Lee Westwood hits the front at TPC Sawgrass

Lee Westwood

Lee Westwood, 47 going on 27, takes a one-shot lead into the weekend of The PLAYERS Championship. 

The evergreen Englishman carded a blemish-free six-under 66 to hit the front at TPC Sawgrass. This just a matter days after he finished second to Bryson DeChambeau in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. 

Westwood leads fellow countryman Matt Fitzpatrick by a shot with Chris Kirk and first round leader Sergio Garcia a further stroke adrift in third.

"I had fun out there," admitted Westwood. "Felt calm and in control. 

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"I believe I've played some of my best golf over sort of the last year and a half and I've had some good results against quality fields. A win in Abu Dhabi and then finishing second in Dubai end of last year to win the Race to Dubai was great playing under pressure. Last week, I obviously played well under pressure again, and this week I've carried it on.

"The nice thing for me about this week is not letting last week affect me in a negative way. I've regrouped. I've still got the memories of last week, of playing well and hitting good shots when I needed to, but there's no hangover from last week. It's a feel-good experience for me this week, and I've carried that into the first two rounds."

Westwood's current mindset is in stark contrast to that of Rory McIlroy. 

The four-time major champion improved on his opening round 79 but only by four strokes, finishing on ten-over and missing the cut by ten.

Afterwards, the Northern Irishman admitted that he's "looking forward to getting home" after "a long four weeks" on the road. 

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McIlroy added that Bryson DeChambeau's US Open winning antics influenced some changes he tried to build into his game that have, instead, hampered him in the early part of 2021.

"I think a lot of people saw that and were like, whoa, if this is the way they're going to set golf courses up in the future, it helps," said the world No.11. "The swing issues and where it all stems from, probably like October last year, doing a little bit of speed training, started getting sucked into that stuff, swing got flat, long, and too rotational. 

"Obviously I added some speed and am hitting the ball longer, but what that did to my swing as a whole probably wasn't a good thing, so I'm sort of fighting to get back out of that. That's what I'm frustrated with."

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