Lee Westwood shot his lowest round on American soil in seven years and then declared the AT&T Byron Nelson “the ideal preparation” for next week’s USPGA Championship. Westwood’s 64, featuring 10 pars and eight birdies, took the former world No1 to nine-under and into contention at Craig Ranch, eight off runaway leader Sam Burns - the American who carded a second-round 62 on the back of his win in Tampa two weeks ago - but only five off second place. The 48-year-old, who has fought his way back up to 23rd in the rankings, looked rested and relaxed after a three-week break and admitted that his run of playing eight out of nine weeks around the Masters was “probably too much”. “i needed that time off because I’ve played too much already,” Westwood said. “But after those two second places [at Bay Hill and The Players] in March, I was on a roll and wanted to keep going. However, at my age, I’ve got to mind my energy levels and keep a bit back.” Westwood missed the cut at The Masters with son Sam on his bag, but fiancée Helen Storey has returned to caddying duties and will also take the role at Kiawah Island where he will again go hunting for that elusive major. “I didn't want to have a month off and go into the [US] PGA rusty,” Westwood said. “This is ideal, really. It is a great tournament in its own right and I prefer to go into a major having been competitive the week before.” On the European Tour, Westwood’s countryman Eddie Pepperell has made a welcome return to form and on 10-under goes into Saturday's final round of the Betfred British Masters with a one-shot advantage over a six-strong group in second, comprising the Scottish duo of Robert MacIntyre and Calum Hill, the Italian pair of Edoardo Molinari and Guido Migliozzi, Poland's Adrian Meronk and South Africa's Dean Burmester. Pepperell reached as high as 32nd in the world less than two years ago but has fallen to 210th after a wretched patch. Yet there were promising signs in the Tour’s three-week visit to the Canaries, with the 30-year-old finishing 12th in Tenerife last Sunday. Pepperell has built on that and with a birdie from 40 feet on the famous 18th at the former Ryder Cup layout, he posted a second successive 68 to emerge from that leaderboard logjam. At the Investec South African Women’s Open - the first event of the year on the Ladies European Tour - Scotland’s Kylie Henry moved to within two shots of the halfway lead with a 72 in Cape Town. South Africa's Nicole Garcia sets the pace at Westlake on level par. --
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