Lee Westwood targeting return to glory as Michael Hoey looks to make the cut in Sweden

Lee Westwood
Lee Westwood

Former world number one Lee Westwood expects to be back in the winner’s circle soon after making an excellent start to his bid for an historic fourth victory in the Nordea Masters.

Westwood carded six birdies and two bogeys in an opening 68 to lie a shot off the clubhouse lead shared by fellow Englishman Andrew Johnston, Scottish pair Scott Henry and Marc Warren, Germany’s Florian Fritsch and the French duo of Clement Berardo and Sebastien Gros.

The 43-year-old came into the event on the back of a disappointing result in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, where he went into the final round two shots off the lead but struggled to a closing 76.

But having finished second in the Masters and 10th in the Irish Open in his previous two starts, Westwood believes a 24th European Tour title could be just around the corner.

“Obviously it’s nice to come back to places you’ve won on before, but I’m more happy with the fact that I’m starting to hit the ball really well and seeing the flight on the shots that I like and on the greens I rolled the ball really well today,” said Westwood, who won his first European Tour title in Sweden in 1996 and also tasted success in 2000 and 2012.

“My short game has been sharp for quite some time now so I do really feel like I should start winning tournaments again soon.

“It’s not an easy golf course, there’s a lot of water out there and a bit of breeze. You have to hit the ball well as it’s very long, but there are a lot of birdie chances out there if you hit the ball in the fairway.”

Meanwhile, Michael Hoey is two off the clubhouse pace in round one at the Nordea Masters as an opening three-under-par 69 gave him the opportunity to avoid a 12th straight missed cut.

Five-times European Tour winner Hoey, 37, is currently 231st in the Race to Dubai standings.

The Belfast man went out in 33 in Stockholm and recovered a second-nine wobble to post a 69. Hoey’s round left him sharing 15th spot nearing the end of round one.