Friday, 19 March 2010

A birdie hat-trick at the start of the back nine propelled defending champion Angel Cabrera into a three way tie for the lead midway through the first round of the BMW Championship 2006 - The Players' Flagship.

The big-hitting Argentine fired five birdies, including three in a row from the tenth, to join Ireland's Peter Lawrie and European Tour Order of Merit leader David Howell on four under- par 68 over the remodelled West Course at Wentworth Club.

One stroke off the pace are World Number Three Ernie Els, who masterminded the changes to the West Course layout, and Englands Kenneth Ferrie, Ian Poulter, and John Wells, 1999 Open Champion Paul Lawrie of Scotland and Welshman Jamie Donaldson.

Cabrera, who was eighth in last month's Masters Tournament at Augusta, said the West Course played much the same as it had 12 months ago.

"It didn't feel very much different because I was hitting the ball well today," the 36 year old said.

"I couldn't really feel the difference. I was able to keep out of trouble so that was good."

Cabrera's putter sparkled as he rammed in efforts of 25, 15, 12, nine and eight feet for his birdies.

Howell, who also pocketed five birdies, said his display vindicated the decision to miss last week's Nissan Irish Open.

"I have still got a bad back but it is not causing me any problems on the course," said the 30 year old Englishman.

"I made the right decision taking last week off. I am not holding back from any of my shots but I do know about it afterwards."

Peter Lawrie, the 2003 Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year, made a fast start with birdies at the second, fourth and fifth holes. He bogeyed the seventh before picking up further strokes at the 12th and 18th. Due to the overnight heavy rainfall, preferred lies are being used in the first two rounds.

Lawrie said the course was playing exceptionally long.

"I have worn out my three, four and five irons," he said. "There are no short irons (into the greens) at this golf course any more."

Els was happy with his revamped layout after finishing one shot off the lead.

"It was a good test but if you played properly today, you'd shoot under-par," said the South African, who has a house on the Wentworth estate.

"The old course, conditions like these, I think you would have seen a 64. Today was your scoring opportunity."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1HOWELL, DavidENG18-17
2KHAN, SimonENG18-12
3JIMÉNEZ, Miguel AngelESP18-11
4RUMFORD, BrettAUS18-9
5BLAND, RichardENG18-8
T6ORR, GarySCO18-7
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