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Westwood wows again to open up big lead in Thailand

(Reuters) - World number three Lee Westwood continued his sparkling form by shooting an eight-under-par 64 at the Thailand Golf Championship Friday to tie the lowest 36-hole total at an Asian Tour event.

The Englishman followed up his career-best 12-under-par 60 Thursday with eight birdies in a bogey-free round to equal the Asian Tour record set by Thailand's Chapchai Nirat at the 2009 Sail Open in India.

Westwood's 124 total gave him a clubhouse lead of 14 shots before U.S. Masters champion Charl Schwartzel shot a 66 in the afternoon to cut the lead to 11.

"It's 14 now, outrageous isn't it?" Westwood told reporters at the Amata Spring Country Club, 80 kilometers east of Bangkok, after his round.

"It's still a long way to go. But at the same time, I'm looking forward to the weekend. I'm playing great and I'm feeling in total control. Every aspect of my game feels good.

"Strange really. Today almost felt better than yesterday. It was quite tough out there. The scoring is pretty tricky. 64 is a really good score; not that 60 wasn't a good score yesterday.

"I hit a lot of good shots again and hit it close. (I am) delighted with two days' work."

Westwood said there would be no change in his approach over the weekend as he tried to close out the win at the $1-million inaugural tournament and claim a third success in Asia this year after his victories at the Ballantine's Championship in South Korea and the Indonesian Masters.

"I'll still try to play the same and try to win the tournament. I'll try to keep the lead irrelevant and keep on playing as I've been playing. I'm playing pretty well and I want to maintain that and keep making birdies and no bogeys."

RARE MISTAKE

The Englishman started the day with a five-shot lead over American John Daly and opened his second round with a par four on his first, the 10th, before three birdies in his next four holes set him on his way.

Another birdie came at the par-four 18th, his ninth, to go out in 32 as his lead swelled to 10 shots over Daly.

Further birdies came at the second, fifth, seventh and eighth, before he rolled in a tricky par putt on the ninth, his last, after a rare mistake when he missed the green with his approach.

"The most satisfying shot of the day was making that eight or nine-footer I holed at the last to keep the bogey off the card the last two days," Westwood said.

The next record in Westwood's sights is that of the biggest winning margin on the Asian Tour which is held by South African Ernie Els, who won the 2005 Asian Open in China by 13 shots.

However, South African Schwartzel will be hopeful of closing the gap after a strong round featuring six birdies and an eagle.

Schwartzel was joined in second place by American Michael Thompson (66) with twice major winner Daly fourth at six under after a disappointing 73. (Reporting by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by Peter Rutherford and Clare Fallon; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

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