Thomas Bjorn sets out in search of some compensation for missing the Ryder Cup in Boston in the third round of the Canon European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre.
The powerful Dane fired a second round 66 for a four under par total of 138 and goes into action in the final three-ball with co-leaders Lee Westwood (69) and New Zealander Michael Campbell, who matched Bjorn’s 66.
Bjorn, plagued by injury early in the season and side-tracked by the birth of his first child, did not really figure in the frantic chase for Ryder Cup points. He admitted: “There was only one place I wanted to be his year and that was Boston and I probably tried too hard to qualify.
“Now that’s out of the way and I can focus 100 per cent on my golf game. I think today was a step in the right direction.
“It hurts not being there. It really does. I did well in the Ryder Cup last time and I’ve just got to try my hardest to get back in the team next time around.”
Tough, windy conditions coupled with the re-designed greens resulted in the cut falling on five over par in comparison with three under just twelve months ago. Only eight players were under par.
There was considerable merit, too, in the 66 shot by Campbell, still in search of his maiden victory on the European Tour. He took three weeks off to spend on holiday with his family and parents in Portugal – and was three over par after two holes of his first round.
“I was very rusty, but I didn’t panic. I knew I could get it back quickly. Mentally I’m fresh again and ready for the big autumn tournaments coming in.”
Westwood, who recorded back to back victories at the end of July, moved menacingly into contention for his third title of the year. He shot a second successive 69 after making an eagle and four birdies in an outward half of 32.
He commented: “I think patience is vital. I think that was the key to the first two days. It isn’t going to be 20 under that wins this year, more like eight under. That 69 today was one of the best rounds I’ve put together for quite some time.”
Nick Faldo was penalised two strokes for grounding his club in a water hazard at the 14th and his score went from 71 to 73 for a total of 144.