GULLANE, Scotland (AP) — Lee Westwood was addressing a birdie putt on the ninth green when a child starting crying in the packed stand just behind him.
It seemed as if everyone on and around the putting surface looked up, or squirmed.
The Englishman didn't even flinch, staying in his zone as he rolled in the fifth birdie of his second round en route to briefly taking a share of the lead at the British Open on Friday.
Westwood's woes on the greens have been the main reason why he remains without a major at the age of 40. But moving to the United States this year — and hiring 1991 Open champion Ian Baker-Finch as his putting coach — has helped.
His putting on Muirfield's bone-dry greens was sharp as he shot a 3-under 68 that left him at 2 under and right in contention at yet another major championship. He was tied for second, a stroke behind Miguel Angel Jimenez.
"I got a couple of tips from Ian on getting tension out of my arms and having a bit more control," Westwood said. "And I'm getting it on line nicely, and I've gauged the pace of the greens as well."
While the front nine was about picking up shots to close the gap on overnight leader Zach Johnson, the back nine was simply about holding on as the holes became longer and tougher and the fairways and greens turned even crustier.
Charl Schwartzel, Westwood's playing partner, said the fairways were like "runways" — his drive on No. 15 sped into a bunker at 380 yards — and said playing conditions were "not exactly fair."
After joining Johnson at 5 under with a 4-foot birdie putt on No. 12, taking him to 6 under for the round, Westwood made bogeys at the next two holes and then another at No. 18.
But he made clutch putts at Nos. 14, 16 and 17 — where Tiger Woods' girlfriend, Lindsey Vonn, was watching — that kept the momentum going.
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