Westwood shakes off Ryder Cup, one shot back at British Masters

Updated: September 25, 2008, 2:57 PM ET
Reuters

SUTTON COLDFIELD, England -- Defending champion Lee Westwood shrugged off the disappointment of last week's Ryder Cup defeat to move within a shot of the lead with a 4-under-par 68 in the British Masters first round on Thursday.

The Briton, despite suffering fatigue at the end of his round, claimed a share of third place behind joint leaders Marcus Fraser of Australia and Sweden's Mikael Lundberg.

Westwood picked up only one point in Europe's Ryder Cup defeat by the U.S. in Kentucky.

"Both weeks are completely different and this week is getting back to the day job," he said after carding six birdies and two bogeys at the Belfry.

"I put last week in a box and filed it away, you can't carry mental scars or baggage from last week with you. I've always been able to get a sense of reality and perspective that way."

Westwood's fitness regime, which he began three years ago, also helped.

"I started to feel jet lag with four holes left but I might have gone with eight holes to go [in the past]. There are no negatives to being fitter and stronger," he said.

The 2000 European No. 1 noticed one big difference from the Ryder Cup match at Valhalla, on the first tee.

"It was a bit quieter than last week and there were no ghosts," said Westwood referring to the American fan draped in a white sheet who confronted him in mid-round on Sunday.

Fraser, looking to climb from 115th on the European money list to guarantee his tour card for next season, grabbed five birdies in his opening nine holes on the way to his 67. Lundberg also launched a strong first-day challenge.

Victory here would move Westwood within $140,000 of money list leader Padraig Harrington, who is absent this week.

Rafa Echenique of Argentina, Anders Hansen of Denmark and Britons Marc Warren and Sam Walker shared third place with Westwood.

Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, the only other European Ryder Cup player competing at the Belfry, produced a roller-coaster 72.

McDowell, twice a winner this year, said he needed to focus better to challenge the leaders.

"I wanted to get back to reality and put the shine on a good season but I was lacking a bit of concentration at times," he said.

Colin Montgomerie slumped to an 81 while former Ryder Cup teammate Darren Clarke shot an 80.

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