Happy Birthday Lee Westwood, who turned 36 today at the 2009 Ballantine’s Championship in South Korea. He is a long way from home on his big day, but such is the globe-trotting lot of most Tour golfers.
In foreign climes Westwood may be, but forgotten his birthday was not. Having ground out a creditable 73, one over par, in blustery wind and rain in the second round at the the Pinx Golf Club on Jeju Island in South Korea, Westwood was presented with a quite intricate birthday cake by the tournament sponsors, which had been painstakingly sculpted to resemble a bottle of Ballantine’s whisky, complete with label and a cork.
“I think the best golf of my career could still be ahead of me,” the birthday boy told Golf Monthly. “I am still learning all the time.” In true and thorough investigative spirit, it can also be reported that the cake was chocolate and it was delicious, but was unfortunately not laced in Scotch.
Confirmation that Westwood’s score was better than it sounds is provided by the fact the Worksop golfer hopped up the leaderboard from his first round placing in a tie for 55th – having opened with a one-under 71 in perfect conditions – to a tie for 42nd. Westwood is level par overall and nine shots behind the halfway leader Robert Jan Derksen. With strong winds expected over the weekend, that nine shot gap might not turn out to be as stretched as it sounds.
For Westwood’s playing partner Graeme McDowell, last years’ winner here, there was little reason for celebration unfortunately; he fought hard to claw back the four shots he dropped in the opening round, but like Westwood the Irishman shot 73, and he finished five-over-par for two rounds to lose his place in the field.
Two shots behind the Dutchman Derksen is a name its always good to see on the leaderboard, Thongchai Jaidee from Thailand. Jaidee took up the game by sneaking through the fence of a private golf course, and who fashioned his first club by tying a discarded five-iron clubhead to a bamboo stick, before joining the Royal Thai Army at the age of 19 and going on to become a paratrooper. Jaidee turned pro a decade ago, aged 29, and he has since won the Malaysian Open twice, in 2004 and 2005. That is what you call a life less ordinary.