Brett Rumford’s bid to make European Tour history at the Volvo World Match Play Championship began in fine style early on Friday as four birdies in his opening five holes saw the Australian take control of his group stage clash with Jamie Donaldson.
After back-to-back wins at the Ballantine’s Championship and Volvo China Open two weeks ago, Rumford is looking to become only the third man in European Tour history to win three consecutive events this week at Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort.
Only Nick Faldo in 1983, and Seve Ballesteros three years later, have achieved the remarkable feat but Rumford, who admitted earlier in the week to a whirlwind preparation to the World Match Play after his duel successes, did not look fazed in the embryonic stages of his clash with the Welshman.
Donaldson, who narrowly lost out by one hole to Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño in a fine match on Thursday, hooked his drive left on the par four first and the Abu Dhabi champion’s resultant double bogey was bettered by three strokes as the Perth man made an opening birdie to immediately go one up.
After sharing the second in par, Rumford made three more birdies in succession to move three up through just five holes and continue his recent excellent form.
It was an overcast start in Kavarna as dark clouds loitered over Gary Player’s majestic signature course first thing on Friday, a pale early sun struggling to break through over the towering cliffs and mountains that give the resort its name.
There was very little breeze, though, for the early starters and others also took advantage of the favourable early conditions.
Scott Jamieson also swiftly moved into a commanding lead over Carl Pettersson in the Mark McCormack group tie, as the Scot went three up through four holes, while Francesco Molinari made two birdies over the first two holes before a par on the third was enough to go three up over Chilean Felipe Aguilar as the morning progressed.
Defending champion Nicolas Colsaerts, who was a shock 4&3 loser to Branden Grace on Thursday, began in more composed fashion over Thai sensation Kiradech Aphibarnrat, as three pars for the Belgian were enough to move two up as the Maybank Malaysian Open champion struggled to an opening pair of bogeys.