Reuters - South Africans Rory Sabbatini and Richard Sterne, dovetailing superbly on the back nine of 30, stormed into a share of the first round lead in the WGC - Barbados World Cup at Sandy Lane Resort on the Caribbean Island. In gruelling conditions, the South Africans carded a seven under par 64 in the fourball (best ball) format to set the pace with Argentine duo Andres Romero and Angel Cabrera and the Swedish pair of Henrik Stenson and Carl Pettersson.
Germany, represented by veteran Bernhard Langer and Marcel Siem, were a stroke behind alongside defending champions Wales with England, South Korea and England on 66. Despite an opening day format conducive to low rounds, scoring was difficult on a blustery day of intermittent showers and bright sunshine at Sandy Lane Resort's Country Club Course. Ireland and Scotland both carded opening scores of 67, four under par.
"It was a tough day out there, and mentally fatiguing," Sabbatini said after he and Sterne had birdied five of the last nine holes. "You just had to battle through it and keep close to the lead. We kept the ball in play and, I think 16 of the 18 holes, we had good birdie opportunities. Ultimately one of us would put it close."
The partnership of Ryder Cup player Stenson and American-based Pettersson worked well in the difficult conditions and Stenson reported: "One minute we were melting and the next we were taking cover from the rain. We could perhaps have shot one or two lower, but that wasn't bad in the conditions."
Winds gusted up to 75 kph, making it particularly testing for the players on the exposed greens.
"There were times when everything was moving: the body and the putter," Langer said. "The conditions were extremely tough and it's not easy to putt in the wind."
The 49 year old German, who won the 1990 World Cup for Germany in partnership with Torsten Gideon under its previous format, was delighted with his form on the greens.
"Every once in a while I play pretty good," the two-time Masters Champion said. "I played well last week and brought a bit of that confidence into this week. I made some good putts today, and that's what it's all about."
Langer won last week's Father/Son Challenge ChampionsGate Golf Club in Orlando, Florida for the second successive year with his son Stefan, a plus one amateur who made the smooth transition to caddie for his father this week.
Cabrera, the 2005 BMW Champion, also took the chance to let his 15 year old son, also named Angel, to carry his clubs and the youngster did an exemplary job as his father birdied four out of five holes from the 12th, with Romero contributing one birdie in a run of five in a row.
In the first WGC-World Cup in Argentina, Cabrera and Eduardo Romero were just edged out by Tiger Woods and David Duval. Now another Romero has taken the place of the older model and Cabrera laughed: "He's a good boy - lots of potential!"
Friday's second round will feature foursomes action before the format switches back to fourballs on Saturday. The competition will end with foursomes on Sunday.
Although being played in Barbados for the first time, the World Cup has twice previously been held in the Caribbean. Puerto Rico staged the two-man team competition in 1961 and 1994.