Date: September 15, 2007

Sleepless Westwood slips back

Lee Westwood admitted his head was in a spin after coming down to earth with a bump to throw the Mercedes-Benz Championship wide open in Cologne and give Australia&aposs Richard Green a chance. Four ahead overnight after an opening 61 which equalled the lowest round of his career, Westwood struggled to a second-round 73 at Gut Larchenhof to finish 10 under par, one behind Denmark&aposs Soren Hansen. The former European number one again got off to a slow start, covering the first four holes in one over, but threatened to repeat his feat of Thursday in playing the last 14 in 11 under when he birdied the fifth and sixth and chipped in for eagle on the seventh. However, the 34-year-old&aposs game fell to pieces on the back nine as the wind picked up and he limped home in 40 – after covering the same stretch in 29 on Thursday – including a visit to the water on the 18th. “I didn&apost play too badly,” he insisted. “Being honest I didn&apost hit enough fairways and you have to do that round here.” “The rough is quite severe and when I did hit the fairways I hit a couple of bad iron shots on the back nine.” “I came here with a bit of a cold and it&aposs gradually got worse and I didn&apost get a good night&aposs sleep last night. My balance felt a bit upset and I struggled to feel the right positions in my swing.” “I took a decongestant and it sent my head into a spin so I think I&aposll leave off them.” With immaculate greens and good weather forecast, tournament director Mikael Eriksson had instructed his referees to place the pins in as tough positions as possible for all four days, as Westwood found to his cost. The pin on the par-three 16th was just 18ft from the front of the green and Westwood&aposs seven-iron tee-shot from 195 yards bounded some 100ft past on the hard putting surface, leading to three putts and another bogey. “They are putting the pins in tough spots and so they should be,” the Ryder Cup star added. “We are supposed to be the best players in Europe and should be tested. It brings the best players to the top.” “It&aposs not a bad position to be in going into the weekend. It&aposs a lot easier to be chasing than leading. You don&apost often follow up a 61 with something better so whatever you shoot you are going to be disappointed but I&aposve had a lot worse scores than 73.” Hansen has been a steady performer since joining the European Tour in 1999, winning the Irish Open in a play-off in 2002. But the Monte Carlo-based 33-year-old has never produced the sort of consistent performances which have him 13th in the Order of Merit with two second places and third in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles a fortnight ago to his credit. “Something has clicked the last few months,” he admitted after a round containing five birdies and one bogey. “I knew it has always been in there and it was coming out here and there.” “But now every week I go out and play solid golf and if you do that and stay patient, you&aposre going to be rewarded.” “Lee Westwood is playing really well and a Lee Westwood in form is always a dangerous man but there are still two rounds to go.” Local favourite and tournament host Bernhard Langer, seeking a 12th victory on home soil, shares third place on seven under with English pair Simon Dyson and Simon Khan, with former Open champion John Daly another stroke back. Richard Green leads the Australasian contingent after firing an impressive five-under-par 67 as a repost to his disappointing opening-round 73. Green lies on four under, five strokes ahead of countryman Peter O&aposMalley who will return to complete the last two holes after bad light forced him from the course. Kiwi Michael Campbell followed his horror opening round of 77 with 73 to miss the cut. Second Round of the Mercedes-Benz Championship: -11 Soren Hansen 65 68 -10 Lee Westwood 61 73 -8 Simon Khan 67 -3 (thru 17) -7 Simon Dyson 66 71 Bernhard Langer 69 68 -6 Thomas Bjorn 71 67 John Daly 67 71 Niclas Fasth 67 71 Mikko Ilonen 68 70 Miguel Angel Jimenez 68 70 Paul Lawrie 68 70 Colin Montgomerie 69 69 also: -4 Richard Green (Australia) 73 67 +1 Peter O&aposMalley (Australia) 70 +3 (thru 16) +6 Michael Campbell (New Zealand) 77 73