Quartet share first round lead

10/7/2010 5:53:25 PM
Martin Laird  (Getty Images)
Martin Laird (Getty Images)

Martin Laird, Thomas Björn, Ricardo Gonzalez and Maarten Lafeber all carded six under par rounds to claim a share of the first round lead at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

The 66 by Laird, back in his homeland from the US PGA Tour, was the low round of the day at Kingsbarns, while Dutchman Lafeber was the only player to record the same score at Carnoustie.

“Obviously pleased with how it started,” said Laird after a bogey-free round. “I hit the ball nicely. 

“It was kind of one of those rounds I hit it nice at the start and didn't really make any putts. Just tried to stay patient and then finally started going in the back nine which is good.”

Ryder Cup Vice Captain Björn and Argentinian Gonzalez were both at St Andrews, generally considered the easiest of the three courses used for the celebrity pro-am.

Björn started on the back nine with an outward one under 35 but burst to life after the turn and produced six birdies with a single bogey on the way in.

“It was tough starting on the back nine here straight into the wind and so that was just a question of trying to hang in and make pars but I knew that when I turned into the front nine there was going to be a lot of chances,” said the 39 year old. “The pin positions are quite generous as well so I knew there would be chances and I putted well today.”

Four-time European Tour winner Gonzalez has endured something of a difficult year and is down at 133rd on The Race to Dubai, but revealed The Home of Golf and pro-am format had helped him rediscover his game.

“I believe my previous best score [at St Andrews] was 67 so to take one shot off that is pretty pleasing,” said the 40 year old. “I love it here though, especially with this weather, it is perfect.

“I really enjoy St Andrews - before The Open here in July I just spent some time walking around the course and the town because it is a really special place with a really special atmosphere. I have my family here again with me this week as I did in July so I am enjoying myself.

“Today I played with the former Argentina rugby captain Hugo Porta who is a sporting legend back home so it was a pleasure to play with him. He is a great man, not such a great golfer! But we had fun. We talked about everything, golf, rugby, tennis, everything.

“This year my problems have been on the greens to be honest. Today I only had 26 putts which made all the difference. I did a lot of work on my putting last week at home and I think it has paid off - I just hope I can keep it going.”

No fewer than six players share fifth place on five under - Dane Søren Kjeldsen, New Zealander Tim Wilkinson, Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti and the English trio of John Parry, Danny Willett and Kenneth Ferrie.

And Ferrie was in agreement with Gonzalez after enjoying some unseasonably good weather.

“I don't think you can get a better day than playing St Andrews in virtually flat calm and in sunshine, especially after the last couple of days,” he said. “I played well, hit a lot of good shots and holed a few putts early on so it was just a good day all round.”

Nine of Europe’s victorious side at The Celtic Manor Resort, plus Captain Colin Montgomerie, were all at Kingsbarns.

German Martin Kaymer did best of them with a 68. Ross Fisher was one worse, Monday hero Graeme McDowell posted a 70, Rory McIlroy and Padraig Harrington 71s, Francesco Molinari and Montgomerie 72s, Edoardo Molinari 73 and Peter Hanson 74.