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Westwood stays positive despite messy Augusta finish

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Lee Westwood was left fuming after he surrendered the Masters lead with a double-bogey at the last on Friday but the Briton was overall happy to remain in contention for his first major title.

A stroke in front going into the second round at Augusta National, the English world number three was back to one ahead playing the 18th before a costly three-putt left him one behind.

"I gave myself a lot of birdie chances and hit a lot of good putts that didn't go in," Westwood told reporters after shooting a one-over-par 73 that also included two birdies and a bogey.

"It was a disappointing way to finish, but if you get out of position on this course it can punish you. All in all, I played solidly today and controlled what I could control.

"I'm good position going into the weekend and I'm not going to be too far off the lead. That's a position you want to be."

Long regarded as one of the best players in the game from tee to green, former world number one Westwood has yet to clinch one of golf's blue riband events despite frequently coming close.

He has produced six top-three finishes in majors, including second place at Augusta National in 2010, and gave himself a flying start to this year's Masters with an opening five-under-par 67.

However, conditions were tricky on Friday as a chilly morning gave way to bright sunshine, quickening greens and shifting winds.

Westwood was unable to make early inroads as he parred the first nine holes. Though he bogeyed the tricky 11th, he did well to recover with birdies at the 12th and 15th before ending his round on a bitter note at the last.

"There was a lot more breeze today, and that obviously makes it play tougher," said the 38-year-old, a 21-times winner on the European Tour.

"The greens are drying out and getting a bit faster. And then the wind can play havoc with some of the second shots."

Westwood is banking on the experience of his close calls at previous majors to help him over the final two rounds this weekend.

"I have been in this position a lot recently, in contention," he said. "I've had a lot of top threes, so I've obviously been there or thereabouts. That should help me as the week goes on."

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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