In outstanding display of foursomes golf on the second day of the World Championships – EMC² World Cup took Fiji to the top of the leaderboard at the halfway stage at Vista Vallarta, Mexico.
Masters and US PGA Champion Vijay Singh and Dinesh Chand picked up 11 birdies with just one dropped shot for a ten under par 62, taking them to 19 under par and one clear of defending champions South Africa and Canada.
The Fijian score was the best in a remarkable day of low scoring which saw England and Scotland move very much into contention on 16 under par with rounds of 63 and 65 respectively. They lie in joint fifth place, a shot behind the Australian team of Craig Parry and Adam Scott.
Singh, an honorary member of The European Tour, and Chand raced to the turn in 31, picking up six birdies and a bogey on the second. After picking up two more on the 11th and 12th holes they finished in style with a hat-trick of birdies to close.
“Foursomes is supposed to be a more difficult format but when you start with some low scores you get a good momentum going,” said Singh. “I had a lot of approach shots to the green and Dinesh was putting well and driving beautifully.
“Last year was the first time we played together and the first time I represented Fiji in golf as a professional. This is a big thing for us and we would definitely like to win it.”
South Africa won the title last year in Japan when the team of Ernie Els and Retief Goosen won the four-way play-off to claim the title. In the absence of both players Bell’s South African Open champion Tim Clark and Rory Sabbatini are making a stout defence of the title.
Clark and Sabbatini have been playing together since the age of eight and, with plenty of knowledge about each other’s games, put together a round of 64, eight under par to lie just one shot off the pace. Like Fiji they birdied each of the last three holes to finish in style.
“We felt we had a good chance this week,” said Clark. “We’ve played a lot of this sort of format as juniors and have both been playing well this week. The scores show that.”
“It’s great for us to be here and be able to represent South Africa,” added Sabbatini. “We just want to do out best out here and we are trying. We both know on any given day we can beat anybody in the world. It’s up to us to push ourselves.”
South Africa were joined in second place by the Canadian pair of Ian Leggatt and Mike Weir. The first round leaders reached the turn in 32 but could only convert the one birdie opportunity on the back nine to slip back into second place with a round of 67.
The Australian pairing of European Tour Members Craig Parry and Adam Scott matched their round of 67 to lie in fourth place.
Last week Alastair Forsyth was tucked up in bed when he received a call from his management company informing him that Andrew Oldcorn was forced to withdraw from the Scottish team due to injury and, as a result, Forsyth was on the team and bound for Mexico.
After a slow start in yesteday’s fourballs, the Scots came charging out of the blocks in the foursomes, rolling in eight birdies in the first 11 holes to move to the top of the leaderboard. But the momentum was lost with a bogey on the 13th, when Forsyth’s pitch came up short and they were unable to save par. Five pars to finish was a frustrating end to a fine round of 64, lifting them into joint fifth place.
“The front nine we played extremely well, didn’t hole many long putts because we hit good shots in,” said Lawrie. “But I hit a poor shot on the tenth and then we made bogey on the 13th and that stopped the momentum. We had chances coming in but didn’t make the putts.”
England, represented by the youthful pairing of Paul Casey and Justin Rose, also gained ground on the leaders with a round of 63 which included nine birdies and an eagle on the par five eighth hole.
“I think we complement each other’s game nicely and it worked well in the foursomes,” said Casey. “it just shows how disappointing the fourball was yesterday and I think we can do a lot better tomorrow and take it from there. If we play well then we are the team to beat.”