Lee Westwood returned to form with a 4-under 67 in the first round at the British Masters to lie one shot off a four-way tie for the lead on Thursday.
Westwood failed to win any of his three matches in Europe’s heavy loss to the United States at the Ryder Cup, before missing the cut at the Dunhill Links Championship last week following a second-round 82.
However, the former No. 1 rolled in six birdies at The Grove – five coming in his first eight holes starting at No. 10 – and said it was “the best I’ve played in quite a while.”
“My driving has not been great but I drove it really well and gave myself a lot of chances,” said Westwood, who is regarded as one of the world’s best players from tee to green. “I’ve been working on a couple of things on the swings, looking at old videos when I was getting in good positions.”
Mikko Ilonen of Finland, Marc Warren of Scotland, Tommy Fleetwood of England and Richard Sterne of South Africa all shot 66s to take a share of the lead.
It was another strong display by Warren, who started the Dunhill Links in 125th place on the Race to Dubai with only the top 110 keeping their cards for next season. He finished fifth at St. Andrews on Sunday to move up 55 places.
Sterne, who was second at the Dunhill Links, has shot eight straight rounds in the 60s and hasn’t dropped a shot in 55 holes.
Alex Noren of Sweden was alongside Westwood and five other Englishmen _ David Horsey, Richard Bland, James Morrison, Andrew Johnston and Lee Slattery _ on 4 under par.
Defending champion Matt Fitzpatrick of England shot 70 after two bogeys in his last seven holes.
Tournament host Luke Donald shot a 6-over 77.
Masters champion Danny Willett was forced to withdraw from the event because of a back injury before starting his round.