• Thailand Golf Championship, round one

Westwood trails sizzling Schwartzel

ESPN staff
December 6, 2012 « Dodson chasing pigs & squirrels to prepare for Johnson | Chartbeat test »
Lee Westwood again found life tough on the greens © Getty Images
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Lee Westwood made a low-key start to the defence of his Thailand Golf Championship title and he is well off the pace of Charl Schwartzel.

The conditions were punishing for those who strayed off the short stuff at Amata Spring Country Club, but Schwartzel proved a score could be made by blitzing his way to a seven-under 65.

"The course is tougher than last year," Schwartzel said. "If you miss the fairways the rough is deep. I was fortunate to hit most of the fairways and some good iron shots and I put a nice round together."

Westwood has some sizzling scores to his name on the track and he looked close to posting a low number as he went at plenty of flags, but he again left a number of makeable putts above ground - notably at 17 where he struck a superb tee shot to six feet on the island green only to miss the chance, and subsequently a par putt at 18 from no more than four feet.

His bogey on 18 saw him sign for a 70 to leave him five back.

Masters champion Bubba Watson impressed the galleries with his range of shots and he put himself firmly in contention with a four-under 68.

Sergio Garcia put himself in a challenging position at five-under but a double-bogey on the 16th saw him fall back to three-under.

Darren Clarke has had a torrid time in 2012, but there were green shoots of recovery in evidence in his round of two-under, one ahead of Hunter Mahan who is feeling his way back to form following eye surgery.

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