The Canadian pairing of Mike Weir and Ian Leggatt hold a one shot lead over Australian’s Craig Parry and Adam Scott after a sensational opening round of 59 in the World Golf Championships – EMC² World Cup at Vista Vallarta, Mexico.
Weir and Leggatt dovetailed beautifully to make 13 birdies in the fourball betterball opening round, coming home in just 28 strokes, holding the outright lead after the French pairing of Raphael Jacquelin and Thomas Levet ran up an unfortunate double bogey on the final hole.
For 17 holes the Frenchmen were in perfect control, Jacquelin making two eagles in a front nine of 29 and six birdies in the first seven holes after the turn took them to the top of the leaderboard. But they were to relinquish their lead when both players found trouble in the water hazard which winds its way down the left side of the 18th hole.
With Jacquelin effectively out of the hole after driving in the hazard, Levet pulled his second shot with a nine iron and the ball spun into the water. Levet proceeded to drop the ball under penalty but as he turned away to reach for his putter, the ball, now in play, rolled back down the slope into the hazard. A second penalty shot was incurred and Levet found himself playing his fifth shot, getting up and down for a closing six.
“It was bad luck on the last, nothing else,” said Levet. “Once the ball is in play, if it goes in the hazard you have to re-drop. It seems a little unfair because I didn’t cause the ball to move but that’s the rules of the game and you have to stick with it.”
The double bogey on the last was the only blemish on an otherwise outstanding opening round. “We played well today,” added Jacquelin. “I made two eagles on the front nine and Thomas made the other birdies to turn in 29. Then we just kept on going and getting better, holing out very well for birdies. The 18th was difficult but there were still three more days to go.”
Weir, winner of the WGC – American Express Championship at Valderamma in 2000, and Leggatt are pairing up in this event for the second time after finishing joint sixth in Japan last year. An outward half of 31, five under par, gave them a solid start, but it was over the closing stretch they made their move, starting with Weir’s eagle three on the 536 yard tenth hole where he holed from 15 feet. Three birdies apiece over the last eight holes, finishing with Leggatt converting from 12 feet on the final green, secured top spot.
“I hit a couple of loose drives at the start but Mike covered me,” said Leggatt. “From then on we played well, had two balls on the fairway every hole and had two opportunities for birdie on every hole.”
“When you are both driving as well as we were you know you are going to have lots of opportunities,” added Weir.
Parry, winner of the WGC – NEC Invitational in August, and Scott, winner of the Qatar Masters and Diageo Scottish PGA Championship at Gleneagles, set the early target with a round of 60 thanks to two identical nines of 30.
Parry got the ball rolling with three birdies in the first three holes and, after taking the back seat for the first few holes, Scott got going on the back nine to keep the score going.
“It was great to win the NEC, especially with the filed there, but this is another week and we have come a long way from Australia and don’t want to head home with our tails between our legs,” said Parry. “We could have made a couple more birdies out there but all teams are going to do that. We have got off to a very good start, we’re in a good position and that’s where we want to be so we can play our way into the championship on Sunday.”
It was a good day all round for the European Tour Members competing in Mexico. A shot adrift of France on ten under par 62 was the Swedish pair of Ryder Cup player Niclas Fasth and Algarve Open de Portugal champion Carl Pettersson, sharing fifth place with the defending champions South Africa, represented this year by Tim Clark and Rory Sabbatini.
After a frustrating front nine in which only two birdies were converted, the Scotland team of Alastair Forsyth and Pail Lawrie roared home in 29 for a round of 63, sharing seventh place with Fiji (Dinesh Chand and Vijay Singh), Denmark (Anders and Soren Hansen), Wales (Bradley Dredge and Ian Woosnam), Swtizerland (Andre Bossert and Marc Chatelain) and Trinidad and Tobago (Stephen andd Robert Ames).
The Argentine and Irish teams, who started out among the favourites, lie five shots off the lead on eight under par alongside Japan with England, New Zealand and the United States a further shot adrift going into the first series of foursomes.