Sat, Jul 26, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Bjorn makes up for costly British Open mistake with 64

REUTERS , PORTMARNOCK, IRELAND

Thomas Bjorn exorcised a few demons when he took a two-shot lead in the Irish Open first round with a battling eight-under-par 64 on Thursday.

The Dane ironically chipped in from a bunker for birdie at the second and birdied his 16th hole. He took three attempts to escape from the par-three 16th bunker in the British Open final round on Sunday, running up the double-bogey that cost him his first major title.

"I said to Michael [Campbell] and Padraig (Harrington), if ever there was a shot five days too late...," Bjorn remarked about his chip-in from the greenside bunker on the second.

His nine birdies, with just one dropped shot, earned him a two-stroke lead over playing partner Campbell, with Briton Paul Broadhurst a further shot behind.

Bjorn's 64 set the new course record at the revamped links just outside Dublin, a remarkable achievement for the determined 32-year-old, who threw away a three-stroke lead at Royal St George's with three holes left, handing the title to Ben Curtis.

"I'm proud of what I did today, because this is not the easiest of courses," he said.

"But I have strong belief in myself. Those things happen in major championships, that's why it's s tough to win a major. I'm looking forward now and the only thing I want to do is keep playing like today and I'll go from strength to strength," he said.

"The bottom line is, I played some magnificent golf last week and I carried that on today. But I didn't come here 100 percent to win but to get out and enjoy golf and realise what happened last week was not the end of my golf career," he said.

While Bjorn insisted he was focused out on the course, he admitted his thoughts had turned to Sandwich and the 16th again the previous night.

"I just looked back at it [the 16th] and it's not the bunker shots that bother me because if I'd hit a good tee-shot I wouldn't have been in there," he said

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