GULLANE, Scotland - Lee Westwood has contended enough in the majors that he can identify important moments, even if he could barely see his ball.
He had a one-shot lead over Tiger Woods, standing in grass up to his knees in the dunes left of the par-3 16th hole. It was one of the few bad shots Westwood hit Saturday at Muirfield, and by far his worst predicament. Westwood slashed at the ball, and it didn't reach the green. He used a putter to belt his next shot up the hill to 12 feet.
What followed was a finish that allowed him to believe he was closer than ever to ending his 20-year pursuit of a major.
Westwood poured in the putt to salvage bogey. He picked up two shots on Woods with a birdie on the next hole. He closed with a solid par, giving him a two-shot lead going into the final round.
"That was probably the biggest momentum thing I did all day - walk off there with a bogey," Westwood said. "That's what's been missing, making those putts. And back it up with a birdie at the next. Those are the sort of things you need to do."
Had he made putts like that, Westwood might not have missed the playoff at the U.S. Open that Woods won in 2008 at Torrey Pines. Or the playoff at Turnberry in 2009. He might even have been able to hold off Phil Mickelson at the Masters in 2010.
Westwood is widely considered the best player of his generation without a major.
The 40-year-old from England passed one big test when he outplayed Woods on another tough day at Muirfield for a 1-under 70 and grabbed a two-shot lead over Woods and Hunter Mahan, the only players still under par.
"Even though I haven't won a major, I know what it takes to win one," said Westwood, who was at 3-under 210. "It's just a case of going out there tomorrow and having the confidence in my game."
Despite his late blunder by hitting into a bunker and making bogey on the par-5 17th, Woods held it together for a 72. Mahan matched the best score of the third round with a 68 and will play in the final group for the second straight major.
"I've got 14 of these things, and I know what it takes to win it," Woods said. "(Westwood's) won tournaments all over the world. He knows how to win golf tournaments. … It's not just us two. There's a bunch of guys who have a chance to win this tournament. And all of us need to really play well tomorrow to win it."
Westwood will try to become only the eighth player dating to 1861 to capture his first major in his 40s.
Today on TV
• What: British Open, Round 4
• When: 3 a.m.
• TV: ESPN
Lee Westwood 72-68-70-210 -3
Hunter Mahan 72-72-68-212 -1
Tiger Woods 69-71-72-212 -1
Adam Scott 71-72-70-213 E
Zach Johnson 66-75-73-214 +1
Phil Mickelson 69-74-72-215 +2