x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

British Open: Caddie lifts up Brazilian's game; Lee Westwood struggles

Adilson Da Silva's caddie says the right things to calm him down; Lee Westwood admits he is struggling; Tom Watson turns back the clock against Martin Kaymer and Ryo Ishikawa.

Lee Westwood is not having a ball at the British Open and admits he has been struggling of late.
Lee Westwood is not having a ball at the British Open and admits he has been struggling of late.


LYTHAM ST ANNES, ENGLAND // The little-known Brazilian Adilson Da Silva benefited from some tough love from his caddie to grab a share the clubhouse lead - for a short time at least - in the British Open first round yesterday.

The 40-year-old Da Silva, who has lived in Zimbabwe and South Africa for the past 20 years, was down in the dumps after suffering a double-bogey six at the third hole on a benign day at the Lytham links.

"I was just like, 'Oh, no, it feels like the whole thing is just falling apart', the world No 502 told reporters after rallying to finish on one-under 69, the same mark as his playing partner Matthew Baldwin of Britain and Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee.

"I lost my confidence pretty hard there but my caddie said, 'Come on, let's hit another good shot, come on, let's start again', and that helped a lot."

The promptings from his bagman had the desired affect as Da Silva recovered from another bogey at the fourth to notch six successive pars before bagging a hat-trick of birdies from the 11th and another at the 17th.

"I just managed to keep it together and we've been so lucky today to have good weather," he said.

The South African resident has won nine times on the Sunshine Tour and holds the record for most consecutive cuts made on that circuit (43).

"I moved to Africa years ago," Da Silva said. "First I went to Zimbabwe. Andy Edmundson, who used to buy tobacco in my hometown of Santa Cruz do Sul, invited me over to play because there wasn't really a lot of golf in Brazil in those days.

"There was a lot of tobacco in Santa Cruz. I used to caddie for Andy and we became good friends. Andy gave me the chance to go and try it out in Zimbabwe so I got a really good opportunity."

Da Silva has not been back to Brazil for four years but would love to play for his native country at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

"I would, I would," he said.

"Golf in Brazil is getting there and we still have a lot of work to do. There are some players coming through but there is still a long road ahead."


No 'feel' for Westwood

Lee Westwood conceded he was struggling to hit the ball straight after carding a disappointing three-over 73 in the British Open first round.

The world No 3, normally one of the most accurate ball strikers in the game, failed to take advantage of birdies at the first two holes and calm conditions to leave himself in danger of missing the cut.

"I am struggling in this thing a little bit at the moment and the start sort of was a bit of a lie really," the Englishman said.

"I don't feel in control of the ball at the moment ... Just one of those things. You can't have great form all the time."


Lawrie's strange start

Since his remarkable win at the 1999 British Open, Paul Lawrie's record at his home major can best be described as lacklustre - seven missed cuts and no finish higher than 42nd.

Thanks to an unusual opening round at Royal Lytham & St Annes, that record should get a whole lot better this year. Lawrie matched his best score at the British Open with a five-under 65 to be one stroke off the lead and revive memories of his infamous triumph at Carnoustie.

"Probably the strangest start of my career," said the Scot. "I didn't hit many good shots and I was three under."


Watson turns back years

American eight-times major champion Tom Watson is 15 years older than the combined age of Ryo Ishikawa and Martin Kaymer but he showed them who was still the boss.

Watson, 62, carded a one-over-par 71 to comfortably outscore 20-year-old Japanese Ishikawa (74) and 2010 US PGA Champion Kaymer, 27, who made no birdies in his 77.

"I know what they're feeling," the five-time British Open champion told reporters.

"Go to the practice range, work it out, try to figure out what happened on your bad swings and don't let it happen again tomorrow," was his advice for the world No 15 Kaymer and No 62 Ishikawa.


Jeev frustrated

India's Jeev Milkha Singh was kicking himself after allowing a flying start to end in a level par 70.

Jeev, who won the Scottish Open in a play-off on Sunday, was on top of the leader board at three-under par through 11 holes but dropped three shots over the next two holes.

"I played really well the first 11 holes. I think the 13th hole was the hole that got me," he said.


Johnson annoyed

Zach Johnson and Bubba Watson maintained the United States's fine recent form in major championships with excellent opening rounds, with Johnson's 65 leaving him a shot of the leader, Adam Scott, and Watson's 67 allowing him to finish level with compatriot Tiger Woods.

Still, not all was pleasing to Johnson, who was extremely annoyed", he said, at bogeying the 17th.

For his part, Watson is enjoying using his imagination at shot-making. "I'm like a kid," Watson said. "I like to be creative."


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