Thursday, November 21, 2013


    Thomas Bjorn in action at Royal Melbourne today. Picture
                          by courtesy of Getty Images(c)

Thomas Björn overcame a four-putt double bogey to sign for a round of 66 and take a share of the lead on the opening day of the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf.

Björn, bidding to become the first Danish winner of the World Cup of Golf in his fifth appearance in the competition, fell victim to Royal Melbourne Golf Club’s lightning fast greens on the fourth hole, but bounced back with six birdies to finish the first day level with Kevin Streelman on five under par.

Björn and fellow Dane Thorbjørn Olesen are also level with America on five under par in the team event after Olesen signed for a level par round of 71, the same score as Streelman’s compatriot Matt Kuchar.

The nearest Denmark have come to World Cup success was back in 2001, when Björn and partner Søren Hansen finished runner-up under the old format.

And the 42 year old is in contention to go one better in Melbourne after an eight foot birdie putt at the last hole set the seal on a satisfying day’s work.

He said: “I played well today. After the fourth hole, I thought to myself “Well, this could be a long day.” But I just kept my composure, made some good birdies and kept playing solid all the way to the end. It was a nice day, but it’s always a nice day here.

“When you wake up in the morning and you know you’re going to go and play Royal Melbourne, you get excited about it. It is, in my eyes, probably the finest golf course you can ever play. You have got to play smart golf, and I could play it every day for the rest of my life and be happy.”

At one point it had looked like Streelman might open up a sizeable lead, but two bogeys in his final three holes brought the American back to the field. 

Third place is currently shared between South Korean K J Choi, Scotland’s Martin Laird and Welshman Stuart Manley, who all signed for founds of 67.

Manley, who regained his European Tour card at last week’s Qualifying School Final Stage, is the surprise package in the leading quintet, and the 34 year old was indebted to a solid display on Royal Melbourne’s daunting greens.  

He said: “I holed out really well today. I left myself a lot of four, five and six-footers for par, but I seemed to knock them in, which was good for my confidence. The greens here are very, very fast but they’re also very true, so if you hit a good putt they tend to go in.”

Jason Day currently occupies sixth spot on three under par, but his fellow Australian and the pre-tournament favourite Adam Scott fared less well, carding a nine on the 12th hole en route to signing for a round of 75.
Par 142 (2x71)
135 Denmark, USA
140 Portugal
141 Scotland, Canada, S Korea
142 Finland
143 Australia, Thailand, Japan
144 Philippines, Brazil,England, Germany.
145 France
147 Ireland, S Africa
148 Sweden, Spain
149 Chile, Argentina
150 Netherlands
151 Italy
152 China
154 N Zealand, India

Par 71
66 Thomas Bjorn (Denmark), Kevin Streelman (USA)
67 Stuart Manley (Wales), K J Choi (S Korea), Martin Laird (Scotland)
68 Jason Day (Australia)
69 Ricardo Santos (Portugal), Danny Willett (England)
70 Tony Lascuna (Philippines), David Hearn (Canada), Mikko Korhonen (Finland), Nicolas Colsaerts (Belgium).
71 Matt Kuchar (USA) (T13)
72 Graeme McDowell (Ireland) (T22)
74 Stephen Gallacher (Scotland) (T38)
75 Chris Wood (England), Shane Lowry (Ireland), Adam Scott (Australia) (T46) 



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