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Bridgestone Invitational Golf Tournament

World's No. 3 golfer leaves

By jim Published: August 7, 2010

By Michael Beaven
and Marla Ridenour
Beacon Journal sports writers

The pain Lee Westwood is experiencing in his right calf became too much on Friday.

A muscle tear forced West-wood to withdraw from the Bridgestone Invitational after his second round on the South Course at Firestone Country Club.

Westwood, ranked No. 3 in the world, shot a 6-over-par 76 Friday. His two-day score of 147 placed him 14 strokes behind the leader, Retief Goosen, who has a 36-hole score of 7-under 133.

Westwood, who is from Worksop, England, also elected to not participate in next weekend's PGA Tournament at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis.

''I will be out for as long as it takes to get better,'' Westwood said in a prepared statement. ''I am just hoping that it will be in time for me to play in the Ryder Cup.''

The Ryder Cup will be contested Oct. 1-3 at Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, South Wales.

''I'm sure by the Ryder Cup, he'll be fine,'' said Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy, who is in a four-way tie for 13th at 1 under par. ''It's a pity to see that he had to pull out.''

Westwood's injury first flared up while he played at the Alstom French Open and has caused severe swelling recently.

''It seems to be getting worse,'' Westwood said after his Friday round.

''[I have to] sit on my backside for six weeks like they keep telling me, that's the only way to improve it,'' he said.

Westwood said he has been taping the calf area, and a shooting pain is causing discomfort.

''There's no strength in it,'' Westwood said. ''I don't have any confidence in it. Then on the way down [during the swing] I'm finding it hard to hold my weight on it and then push off.

''It's unfortunate it's happened now when I'd like to be playing at my best. I can't even hit balls now. It's evident that I'm rusty since the [British] Open because I haven't been able to practice. It's just a vicious circle, really.''

Since the 2009 British Open, Westwood has been in the top 3 in four of the past five majors. This season he placed second at the British Open and the Masters.

''I'd like to be working out, but I can't put any weight on it in the gym, so my legs feel heavy,'' Westwood said.

Phil Mickelson, who is tied for second with Justin Leonard at 6 under par, said he is disappointed Westwood is out.

''That's disappointing because he's been playing such great golf,'' said Mickelson, No. 2 in the world. ''It's not good for the tournament to have one of the best players in the world not be able to play.''

Westwood entered this week as a candidate to possibly take over the No. 1 ranking, currently held by Tiger Woods, who played alongside Westwood on Thursday and Friday and has a 36-hole score of 146.

Woods, a seven-time champion at Firestone, is tied for 72nd in a field that now stands at 80 golfers.

New lad mans the bag

Former Mid-American Conference rivals Ben Curtis and Ricky Elliott are in their second weekend as a team on the golf course.

Elliott is caddying for Curtis this weekend, the second tournament the two have been in together since Andy Sutton stepped aside from carrying Curtis' bag at the British Open.

Sutton gave Curtis short notice, sharing his decision with the Kent State product the Friday of the British Open (July 16), when Curtis failed to make the cut at the tournament.

''He's done. I think he's retiring,'' said Curtis, who is 1 under par for the tournament with rounds of 69 and 70 and is tied for 24th. ''I think he wanted to end at the home of golf.''

Curtis said he would not rule out Sutton reaching out to him next year when the British Open returns to Royal St. George's, the course where Curtis won the tournament in 2003.

''Yeah, he might be calling me up, and saying 'I want back on the bag,' '' Curtis said.

Elliott played at the University of Toledo and is a native of Portrush, Northern Ireland, which is also where Graeme McDowell is from.

Elliott earned All-MAC first-team honors in 1997 and concluded his UT career in 2000.

Curtis entered the weekend 44th in Ryder Cup points standings and would need to finish near the top of the leaderboards in the tournaments leading up to the event.

''If you play good, you get rewarded,'' Curtis said.

Curtis represented the United States in the 2008 Ryder Cup after tying for second at the PGA Championship and tying for seventh at the British Open.

''I'd give my right arm to play again,'' Curtis said. ''But you can't add more pressure to it than you already have. You're already playing under enough pressure out here.''

Changes help Leonard

Justin Leonard and Mickelson are tied for second at 6 under par, just 1 shot behind Goosen.

Leonard, ranked No. 101 in the world, said a few changes in the position of his club have helped.

''It was one of those things where it was time to do it,'' Leonard said. ''Band-Aids weren't going to last much longer.''

Leonard said Randy Smith and Brian Smith assisted in the change.

''I've always kind of approached this game as being more of a marathon than a sprint. Willing to take a step back in order to take two steps forward. Hopefully these last couple of weeks are those two steps forward,'' he said.

Three tied for fourth

Sweden's Peter Hanson is tied with Bo Van Pelt and Bubba Watson for fourth, 2 strokes behind Goosen.

Hanson said his play has improved since finishing sixth at the French Open.

''I've been playing good for the last bit of the season,'' Hanson said. ''It was nice to get a week's rest before coming here and I did a bit of practice and fine-tuning on my game, and was very happy how I was hitting the ball when I got here.

''I've been hitting it really well. My iron shots have been spot on this week, so hopefully I will be keeping that up.''

Van Pelt said he was not pleased with his swing Friday, but did find some positives.

''Any time you're in the 60s on this golf course, you're going to feel good about it,'' Van Pelt said.

Van Pelt is also playing after taking two weeks off and said he feels refreshed from a ''summer break.''

''My body feels good and I'm trying to stay in a good rhythm,'' Van Pelt said. ''I feel like we've made some strides, but there's always room for improvement.''

Watson said putting played a role in his 71 Friday after carding a 64 Thursday.

''The golf course is hard,'' Watson said. ''I just didn't make the putts today. The green speeds were a little slower, and I couldn't get used to it. After yesterday being lightning fast, today was a little bit slower, probably about a foot slower.''

Six are 3 shots behind

Matt Kuchar, Nick Watney and Lucas Glover are tied for seventh with Australian Adam Scott, Spain's Miguel A. Jimenez and England's Paul Casey. The group trails Goosen by 3 shots.

Scott birdied two holes and bogeyed two holes for an even-par 70 Friday. The bogeys on Nos. 7 and 9 irked him after the round.

''I missed a short putt on seven and played the ninth poorly,'' Scott said. ''I let a couple get away.

''I wasn't playing my best today. I hit a few off line and scrambled hard. Just one too many tough lies on the ninth there. I left myself in a bad spot.

''I was just in the first cut of rough, the drive was fine. The ball just kind of shot up in a little bit of a gust and came down way short. I'm not too sure what really happened.''

Casey birdied three holes for a 68 Friday, but felt he could have made a few more.

''I'm slightly disappointed I haven't made more birdies,'' Casey said. ''These guys like Goose out there are just tearing it to pieces. Firestone has always been very firm and fast and very difficult to get close to the pin, and that's not the case with the conditions we've got right now.''

An even Day

Australian Jason Day is tied for 24th at 1 under par for the tournament with rounds of 69 and 70.

''I've been hitting it pretty well. I think my mind would go wander through the middle of the round,'' Day said. ''Myputting's been off a little bit, too. I'm going to try and tighten the putting up a little bit.''

Day was at 4 under par through five holes and then struggled.

Day is staying with his wife, Ellie, in their RV parked across the street from the Firestone clubhouse.

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