sport

Westwood in charge in Malaysia

Lee Westwood took command of the Malaysian Open on Friday after Pablo Larrazabal survived the scariest moment of his career in Kuala Lumpur.

Westwood added a 66 to his opening 65 for a 13-under-par halfway total of 131, four shots ahead of Ryder Cup team-mate Nicolas Colsaerts and Antonio Lascuna of the Philippines.

But the 40-year-old's superb performance was somewhat overshadowed by a bizarre incident involving Larrazabal, who shot a remarkable 68 despite having to dive into a lake after being attacked by hornets.

The incident happened on the fifth hole at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club - Larrazabal's 14th hole of the day - and after drying off and receiving treatment, the 30-year-old went on to birdie the par five and make another on the seventh.

"I hit my tee shot just right of the bunker and chipped it out quite well," Larrazabal said.

"So I'm walking along and suddenly I felt something on my nose. I swatted it away and suddenly...they were not bees, they were three times the size of bees.

"They were huge and like 30 or 40 of them started to attack me big time. I didn't know what to do. My caddie told me to run, so I start running like a crazy guy, but the hornets were still there, so the other players told me to jump in the lake.

"So I ran to the lake, threw my scorecard down, took off my shoes and jumped into the lake. It was the scariest moment of my career, for sure. I've never been so scared.

"I had to throw my shirt and hat away, and the towel I'd been swatting them with. The referees and a doctor took me aside and gave me a couple of injections and told me to relax. After the injections I felt a lot better and could continue. Without the help of the referees I couldn't have finished the round, because I was in no state to play golf.

"Tomorrow it will be very, very scary to play that hole. I'm not sure what I'm going to do, but hopefully I will play it as quickly as I can."

Larrazabal, who won the Abu Dhabi Championship ahead of Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson in January, later added on Twitter: "In my room resting after a long and tough day out there...Head still in pain but I will be 100% and ready tomorrow to go for a low one...

"There are a lot of stories around the golf courses around the world but looks like I always have the crazy ones. Maybe I start to write a book."

Westwood could certainly write a book on how to win in Asia, 12 of the Englishman's 40 career wins coming on the continent and another one looking on the cards.

A series of superb iron shots helped Westwood fire eight birdies from close range, with the only blemish a double bogey on the par-three 11th where his tee shot found water short of the green.

"I played well," Westwood said on Sky Sports.

"On the front nine I shot five under [for the second day running] and I think the longest putt I holed was from four feet on the first. It was solid stuff.

"I got a little unlucky at 11 I thought, it was one of the best shots I hit all day and the wind just gusted on me and it came up short in the water. But I rallied after that and ended up shooting 66."

Former world number one Westwood is currently ranked 36th after struggling to find top form following an unsuccessful spell with Tiger Woods' coach Sean Foley, but feels the work undertaken with new coach Mike Walker is paying off.

"I started with Mike six or seven weeks ago and I felt an almost immediate improvement on the range, but it was difficult to take it onto the golf course," Westwood added.

"But the last three weeks I have managed it. I played well in Houston, last week at the Masters I started playing a lot better and this week I am gradually grinding it back in.

"I have always played well in Asia, my strike rate is really good. It must be the heat or rice or something, I can't put my finger on it."

Colsaerts had been within a shot of Westwood after playing the front nine in 32, but could only manage eight pars and a bogey on the back nine to shoot a 69 and match the total of world number 327 Lascuna, who had set the early clubhouse target after a 65.

England's Danny Willett was eight under after a 66, with compatriot Andy Sullivan and France's Julien Quesne another shot back following rounds of 67 and 69 respectively.