Is it finally time for Lee Westwood's major moment?

Lee Westwood reacts after making a par putt on the 16th during the second round of the 142nd Open Championship at Muirfield.

GULLANE, Scotland -– Others in the field might be whining and moaning about the conditions at Muirfield. Not Lee Westwood.

They suit him right down to the ground. The same can’t be said for Luke Donald.

Westwood returned a 3-under 68 to get to 2 under for the Open Championship and jump into contention. He sat just three shots off the lead when he finished his round. At one point he shared the lead with Zach Johnson at 5 under when he got to 6 under for his round through 12 holes.

Three bogeys in the last six holes halted his progress, but Westwood was happy with his day’s work.

“I was pleased to be 6 under through 12,” he said. “I was playing some great stuff. It was getting harder as the holes progressed, tougher to score, tougher to get it close.”

Westwood has been taking putting lessons off 1991 Open Champion Ian Baker-Finch. He says the Australian has helped him relax more when he stands over the ball. It showed. Westwood holed some pretty good par-saving putts during his round.

“I got a couple of tips on getting tension out of my arms and I’m having a bit more control. I’m getting on line nicely and I’ve gauged the pace of the greens as well.”

The putting surfaces were softer after some overnight watering from the R&A. The Englishman quipped that he actually had to repair pitch marks at the second and third greens, something not many competitors have had to do on Muirfield’s rock-hard surfaces.

Many competitors have come off the course looking like they’ve been through a mental and physical examination. Yet Westwood was in a particularly jovial mood when he came off the golf course, even with those bogeys at 13, 14 and 18.

“Why not enjoy it?” Westwood said. “It's tough for everyone. It’s a grind out there.

“It’s a major. I think this probably takes more experience, especially when it gets like this. Patience is important. The mindset is not to follow a bogey with another three bogeys.”

Westwood’s mood was in stark contrast to Luke Donald’s. While Westwood is in contention, Donald is heading home after scores of 80 and 72 for a 10-over total of 152.

Donald arrived here not in the best of form, but some suspected his lack of length off the tee might just help him on a fast-running Muirfield.

“The damage was done yesterday,” Donald said. “I felt a little uncomfortable in the practice rounds. I didn’t have a lot of control over the ball.

“I need to keep improving to win a major. It’s about how to control your trajectory, and I’m just not doing that right now.”

Donald admitted the work he’s done on his swing this year has not paid off. “I’ve been working hard on my swing but I’ve maybe got too many swing thoughts going through my head. Sometimes when you try to make things better it can backfire.”

Westwood has no problem with his trajectory thanks to work he’s been doing with Sean Foley. Usually an excellent driver of the ball, Westwood’s long game has suffered this year because of the more short-game practice. His second round seemed to suggest all parts of his game are on song.

The 40-year-old is bidding to become just the eighth man to win a major in his 40s. He already has 11 top-10s in the majors, including second in this championship in 2010, and the same finish in that year’s Masters. He was also third in the 2008 U.S. Open.

Could this be the year Lee John Westwood finally gets the major monkey off his back?

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