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  • Nordea Masters, Round One

Westwood shows form in Sweden

ESPN staff
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There were more highs than lows in Sergio Garcia's first round © Getty Images
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World No. 3 Lee Westwood justified his decision to play in Sweden before flying to San Francisco for the US Open by making a confident start at the Nordea Masters.

Westwood, who made the call to forego the St Jude Classic in Memphis - where he won in 2010 - in favour of playing on the European Tour prior to next week's second major of the year, drained five birdies in an opening 68.

Westwood said he felt tired after three visits to America and trips to Asia and the Middle East all in 2012, but the 39-year-old showed no sign of fatigue as he put himself in contention at Bro Hof.

The Englishman made a fast start, rolling in back-to-back birdies from the first, before another birdie-effort dropped at the fifth. He continued his success after the turn and, although he dropped a shot at the 14th, he rallied with a 20-footer at the last to finish the day on four-under.

Westwood is three adrift of leader Magnus A Carlsson, who powered to the top of the standings courtesy of a seven-under 65. The Swede was relentless on the front nine, bagging himself five birdies, and there were three more to enjoy coming in. A bogey at the 18th discoloured his card slightly but he holds an enviable two-shot lead heading into Thursday.

Sergio Garcia, looking for his 11th European Tour title, is on course to bolster his Ryder Cup prospects after signing for an opening 69. The Spaniard, currently ninth in the World Points list, did not play flawlessly - as three bogeys suggest - but there were plenty of positives in a characteristically colourful round, which leaves the world No. 22 four shots off the pace on three-under.

Defending champion Alexander Noren, whose attempts to retain the Wales Open last week were ruined by a lower back injury, ended a frustrating round on two-over after a 74.

Richard Bland, who is only back on the European Tour having made a successful trip to Qualifying School, was the early clubhouse leader following a five-under 67. A birdie at the first saw him get off to a flyer, and another at the par-four third signalled a man in form. A fine approach into six enabled him to pick up another shot, with the Englishman heading for the turn in 33.

A wobble at 10 was erased from the memory by back-to-back birdies, before a double-bogey seven threatened to dent his confidence. A strong finish of three consecutive birdies put paid to that, with 24 swings of the putter over the course of the round highlighting his self-assurance with the short stick.

Michael Jonzon, aiming for a first top-40 finish of the season, is also giving chase after an encouraging 68. And it could have been even better for the Swede but for a bogey at the last.

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