Kiawah amnesia no problem for Björn

8/9/2012 8:10:42 PM
Thomas Bjorn shot a two under par 70 on day one at Kiawah Island  (Getty Images)
Thomas Bjorn shot a two under par 70 on day one at Kiawah Island (Getty Images)

Thomas Björn insisted he had absolutely no recollections from playing the the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island in the 1997 World Cup, but The Great Dane posted a two under par 70 regardless in the first round of the US PGA Championship in South Carolina.

It was 15 years ago that Bjorn last played on Kiawah Island at the then titled ‘World Cup of Golf’, but the 13-time European Tour Champion was brutally honest that in this instance, his memory had failed him.

“I walked onto the first tee and I never recognised one hole, no; that's too long ago!” Björn admitted.

Björn came flying out of the blocks with back-to-back birdies on the first two holes on Thursday, going on to turn in 34 blows, while the man that won three times in the 2011 European Tour season traversed the back nine of the renowned Ocean Course in level par, erasing bogeys at the tenth and long 16th with another pair of birdies at 11 and 12.

“I got off to a good start and made a couple of mistakes out there that cost me a little bit.  I made a good choice on the right holes and I think that's the key to this golf course is three or four holes out there that can get you and I managed to hit good shots on them today.

“For the first ten or 12 holes it was a flat calm, it doesn't get any better than that.  The fairways are quite wide so if you’re hitting them then you can make the greens which are playing pretty receptive.

“It was definitely there for the taking, but a good start anyway.”

With heavy rain and thunderstorms disrupting the field’s preparation for the final Major Championship of the season, Björn acknowledged it hadn’t been a normal build-up to the event.

“Yeah, I managed to get 18 holes of practice in, just,” he said. “I had to go out and play five or six and then come back in and then play eight or nine.  So it wasn't the best preparations but it was the same for everybody.
 
“I think a lot of guys skipped what they normally do and just played maybe 18 or 27 holes.”

Björn, who has previously contested in two successful Ryder Cup campaigns in 1997 and 2002, is currently 15th in the World Points list – five outside of the automatic qualification spots – so the Gothenburg resident knows a big week in South Carolina could give him an outside chance of making José María Olazábal's side in Chicago.

However, the 41 year old refused to be drawn on whether it was something playing on his mind.

Ian Poulter is another very much in contention for a place in The Ryder Cup Team and the Englishman is currently one spot outside the automatic qualification spots with three weeks – including the US PGA – left to either cement a place in the top ten or convince Olazábal of his merits as a Captain’s Pick.

The 36 year old matched Björn with a two under par 70 in the first round on Thursday to get his campaign for a maiden Major title off to a solid start.

“It’s a pretty good score,” Poulter summarised. “I was three under through ten and made a little mistake with a five iron at the fourth and ended up in one of those bunkers with a tight lie. I got it out to 40 feet and nearly holed it but apart from that it was steady.

“I didn’t have a lot of looks at birdie putts but hopefully I can do that tomorrow.

“I played just one practice round this year so for me it is about staying strong for the weekend, especially when you are playing in 100 degree heat.”

Poulter was also hesitant to get too far ahead of himself in terms of thoughts of  Medinah in September.

“I am not thinking about the Ryder Cup in any way shape or form this week,” he said. “I am trying to win the Wanamaker Trophy this week and if I can do that or get close then The Ryder Cup will take care of itself.
 
“I don’t want to be a pick but there is still time for me to make the team. I am not far away from it.”