SUTTON COLDFIELD, England -- Defending champion Lee Westwood shrugged off the disappointment of last week's Ryder
Cup defeat to move within a shot of the lead with a 4-under-par
68 in the British Masters first round on Thursday.
The Briton, despite suffering fatigue at the end of his
round, claimed a share of third place behind joint leaders
Marcus Fraser of Australia and Sweden's Mikael Lundberg.
Westwood picked up only one point in Europe's Ryder Cup
defeat by the U.S. in Kentucky.
"Both weeks are completely different and this week is
getting back to the day job," he said
after carding six birdies and two bogeys at the Belfry.
"I put last week in a box and filed it away, you can't carry
mental scars or baggage from last week with you. I've always
been able to get a sense of reality and perspective that way."
Westwood's fitness regime, which he began three years ago,
"I started to feel jet lag with four holes left but I might
have gone with eight holes to go [in the past]. There are no
negatives to being fitter and stronger," he said.
The 2000 European No. 1 noticed one big difference from
the Ryder Cup match at Valhalla, on the first tee.
"It was a bit quieter than last week and there were no
ghosts," said Westwood referring to the American fan draped in a
white sheet who confronted him in mid-round on Sunday.
Fraser, looking to climb from 115th on the European money list to guarantee his tour card for next season, grabbed five birdies in his opening nine holes on the way to his 67. Lundberg also launched a strong first-day challenge.
Victory here would move Westwood within $140,000 of
money list leader Padraig Harrington, who is absent this week.
Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, the only other European Ryder Cup player
competing at the Belfry, produced a roller-coaster 72.
McDowell, twice a winner this year, said he needed to focus
better to challenge the leaders.
"I wanted to get back to reality and put the shine on a good
season but I was lacking a bit of concentration at times," he said.