David Park of Wales intruded on an intriguing Ryder Cup guessing-game at Golfclub Munchen Nord-Eichenried when he shot a magnificent course record-equalling 62 in the first round of the BMW International Open.
Much of the discussion this week has centred around who might and who might not qualify for the European team and who might be handed the wild cards by captain Mark James – if captain he still is on Sunday evening if he plays his way into the side.
However Park managed to re-focus attention on the BMW-sponsored event with his 10 under par round which enabled him to establish a four stroke lead from a trio of players on 66.
Park came to prominence in a blaze of unexpected publicity in June when he finished second in the Moroccan Open then claimed his first European Tour title the following week by capturing the Compaq European Grand Prix at Slaley Hall.
Since then Park has been low profile – until now. He racked up eleven birdies and one bogey in his 62, which turned out to be the lowest competitive round of his career. He had shot a 60 in practice before, but admitted: “It looks like another bonanza for my shareholders – and for me. I tried a new set of Ping irons and loved them. I’m pretty pleased with this round.”
While Park streaked into the lead, Nick Faldo kept the Ryder Cup pot bubbling along nicely with a fine round of 67, which left him in fifth place behind Padraig Harrington Dennis Edlund and Domingo Hospital, who all finished on 66.
A bullish-sounding Faldo had five birdies and no dropped shots in his round and said: “This is definitely the best I’ve felt for a while. I can forget about the past and go out and play to win this week.”
Even a victory wouldn’t secure a place in the top ten for Faldo – but it might just jog the memory of Mark James, who shot a 70 which would have been appreciably better but for a four-putt at the seventh hole.
James, naturally, isn’t giving anything away. He could select Faldo – veteran of eleven Ryder Cups – Bernhard Langer, who shot a first round 69, or Harrington, currently in 13th place and bang in form.
However the captain said: “I have never questioned Nick’s hunger, his commitment or his ability to play under pressure, or how much he wants to play in the Ryder Cup. I don’t think anyone has. If you do question that with players like Nick, you underestimate him.”
Harrington, who just missed out two years ago, could find himself in the same situation this time around. However he said: “I don’t have to go out and impress Mark. I just need to finish first, second or third.”