Lee Westwood put himself into contention at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational last night and credited his strong US Open finish at Torrey Pines for helping him get there.
Westwood shot a five-under-par second-round 65 at the Firestone Country Club to lie two shots behind halfway leader Vijay Singh, with Phil Mickelson separating them at six under.
The Englishman claimed his third place at Torrey Pines six weeks ago, when he finished a shot behind eventual champion Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate, had served as a big morale boost. "I've taken a lot of confidence from that," Westwood said. "It's not going to get any more pressurised or there's not going to be more going on than playing in the last round of the US Open with Tiger. I tried to carry on that confidence that I built up there into this event.
"This is a golf course I've played well on in the past. I've shot 63 around here and I think I hold the lowest score for the back nine. It's just a golf course that I stand on and a lot of shots suit my eye."
Singh, in the last group of the day to tee off on the 10th hole, stormed into the lead with a second-round four-under-par 66 that contained five birdies and a bogey.
Starting almost five hours before the Fijian, world No 2 Mickelson was first out on the par-70 South Course and immediately set about chasing down Retief Goosen's four-under-par overnight best. Mickelson had trailed Goosen by two strokes and began with a birdie at the 10th, and another at the par-four 14th saw him draw level with the South African at four under as he reached the turn in 33.
Then the left-hander moved up a gear, with birdies at the second and third holes to move clear by two shots after 12 holes, and with a bogey at the eighth negating a birdie at the previous hole, Mickelson checked out with a round of 66 to lead at six under par.
Joining Westwood in the clubhouse on five under, one shot back on Mickelson, were Zach Johnson, Sean O'Hair and Peter Lonard of Australia. Padraig Harrington struggled in his second round, slipping back to three over par with some wayward shots that led to a round of 75.
l Open winner Harrington will take his place among the year's major winners in the traditional grouping of champions for the opening rounds of next week's US PGA Championship. Harrington will tee off next Thursday at 1815 BST with Masters winner Trevor Immelman, while the absence through injury of US Open victor Tiger Woods means the world number one's place has gone to 2007 champion Angel Cabrera.