Westwood 'ready' to take major step

 

Golf - Master Update:England’s Lee Westwood goes into tonight’s final round of the Masters with a one-shot lead but will have to hold off multiple champions Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson if he is to land his first major. The world number four displayed an ice-cool temperament yesterday, firing a four-under-par 68 to fend off a scintillating charge by Mickelson on the back nine.

American left-hander Mickelson, winner at Augusta in 2004 and 2006, soared up the leaderboard with a stunning eagle-eagle-birdie burst from the par-five 13th and will play alongside Westwood in the final pairing (7.40pm Irish time).

Westwood, who has tied for third in his last two majors, sets the pace at 12-under 204 with Mickelson alone in second place and Woods and South Korean KJ Choi sharing third spot at eight under.

"I think I'm ready," said Westwood of his bid for the prized Green Jacket. "It's a position I wanted to be in.

"All I can do is stick to my game plan, which I formulated over the last couple of weeks ... and try and execute that properly."

Asked how he felt about heading world number three Mickelson and top-ranked Woods going into the final round, Westwood replied with a smile: "It's a very player-friendly leaderboard when you're me and at the top of it.

"I think that's what everybody wants to see. Everybody has missed Tiger on the golf course the last five, six months and he's up there. Phil is up there.

"You've got four, three and one in the world on the leaderboard," added Westwood

Woods, a four-time Masters champion, is playing his first tournament in nearly five months with his private life having spectacularly unravelled at the end of last year.

The game's leading player went into hiding as tawdry revelations emerged about his serial philandering but he has stunned the golf world by immediately moving into contention on his return for the season's first major.

"I'm four back so I've got a good shot," said Woods, who recorded seven birdies and five bogeys on the way to a second successive 70 yesterday.

However the 34-year-old American will enter new territory when he sets off in the company of Choi at 7.30pm, having never come from behind going into the final round to win a major title.

"It's important if I do it," Woods said. "I have to - I'm not leading the tournament."

Conditions are expected to remain mostly sunny where Miguel Angel Jimenez made the first significant move among the early starters.

The pony-tailed Spaniard birdied the second and third to get to one over for the tournament.

-additional reporting agencies