Visiting American Brandt Snedeker made the most of having to compete with just 10 clubs in handing Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn a shock 5 and 4 defeat on day one of the World Match Play Championship on Thursday.
Snedeker was never behind in his opening round match, winning the opening three holes and then racing to 5-up after just six holes over the future Ryder Cup captain.
The Tennessee-born Snedeker’s golf bag went missing on a flight from Miami to Malaga and it meant the current world No. 26 having to put together a “makeshift” collection of clubs.
“I grabbed John Senden’s back-up driver this morning and the driver worked really well, so that could be my driver now,” Snedeker said.
“I also grabbed a putter from the Pro Shop and that started working really well, but then my own clubs arrived on the fourth hole, so I added a hybrid, 3-wood and lob-wedge and my own putter to the bag,” he added.
Snedeker is competing in the event, and in Spain, for the first time and also looking to impress US Ryder Cup captain Davis Love of his match-play capabilities, even though the event does not carry any Ryder Cup qualifying points.
“I love the one-on-one aspect of match play and I decided to come to this event as it is an event that has produced some great champions,” he said. “I feel also it would be pretty tough for Davis if I won this week to leave me out of the team and also if I keep playing like this, and keep playing well.
Snedeker is lying 11th on the US’ Ryder Cup points table and three spots outside of automatically qualifying to the Medinah team, and given Love will have the choice of four “wildcard” picks.
In other matches, defending champion Ian Poulter accounted for Australia’s John Senden 3 and 2.
Poulter was never behind moving to 1-up after three holes, 2-up through nine holes and then 3-up after 12.
After being bundled out in the opening match in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship earlier this year, Poulter is determined to retain his World Match Play crown.
Fellow Englishman Justin Rose handed out the biggest defeat on the first day of the 2.75 million euro (US$3.49 million) event in humbling compatriot Robert Rock 7 and 6.
Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell also came from behind to defeat Sweden’s Robert Karlsson 1-up after birdying the final hole.