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Lee Westwood

Lee Westwood

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TURNBERRY, Scotland -- A year later, Lee Westwood is getting a reprieve.

Which seems a bit foreboding, since his career seemed all but over a few years ago, and he turned that around completely in his second chance.

Thirteen months after he played in the final group at the U.S.

Open and missed a playoff by a single stroke, the 36-year-old Englishman enters the last round of oldest major championship again within an eyelash of his first major title.

Lee Westwood's focus pays off with a birdie on No.

17 during the third round.

(Getty Images) One of two players in the field who has shot par or better over the first three days at Turnberry, Westwood is 2 under overall and trails aged wonder Tom Watson by two strokes entering Sunday's final round at the 138th British Open.

Westwood, who at the beginning of the decade was one of the transcendent players in the sport after winning seven worldwide titles in 2000, eventually fell into a deep slump that had some likening him to David Duval.

He toppled into the second tier.

• Round 3 recap | Leaderboard | Westwood's scorecard OK, being honest, it was a lot farther down than that.

"The middle or the bottom?" he laughed.

Perhaps more than any player, Westwood has experienced the body blows that the game can offer even the best players.

He had it all, lost it and fought gamely to rekindle his reputation and career.

So nothing that happens from here on out is going to make him sweat much.

"I think the more experiences you have, the more equipped you become to handle most situations and deal with most things that come at you," he said after shooting an even-par 70 on Saturday.

"I would probably suggest I've experienced more in golf than most people out there playing.

So I know what it's like to play both ends of the string, I suppose." For a while, that string felt like a noose.

"Having been in contention at the U.S.

Open last week, last year, and played that last round with Tiger [Woods] there and learned a lot, I can carry that on through to tomorrow and try my usual stuff that I've learned from my experiences," he said.

He and playing partner Ross Fisher, another Englishman, are bucking some historical roadblocks.

The last Englishman to win the British Open was Nick Faldo in 1992.

If he wins, Westwood would be the third Englishman in 40 years to win the most hallowed event in Europe.

Westwood, who has been installed as the co-betting favorite with Fisher entering the final round, has had a look of stoic determination on his face all week.

It has been easy to gauge, since he was part of the focal threesome in the first two rounds and never blinked.

Playing alongside Woods and Japanese teen Ryo Ishikawa, Westwood birdied the first three holes of the first round and has had few major issues since, at least compared with most players.

Westwood cracked that the media circus left town Saturday, sort of like Woods and Ishikawa, who both missed the cut.

"I couldn't believe it on the first tee today; there were about five photographers there," he said.

"I wondered where they had all gone.

I thought they were there for me [the first two days], but obviously not." In an odd way, enduring the heightened media attention and crowd noise associated with the Woods and Ishikawa grouping seems to have honed his focus even further.

"I think being paired with Tiger probably focused me more than I would normally, because there was so much going on," he said.

"I needed to have, you know, almost 110 percent concentration, rather than the usual 100 percent."
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