SCOTTISH duo Martin Laird and Stephen Gallacher had mixed fortunes in today’s first round of the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf at Royal Melbourne.
Laird, a three-times winner on the PGA Tour, carded a four-under-par 67 to sit joint-third, one shot behind joint-leaders Thomas Bjorn from Denmark and American Kevin Streelman.
But Gallacher, who is playing for the fifth week running on a trip that has already taken him to China, Turkey and Dubai, had to settle for a three-over 74 to lie in a share of 38th.
It left the Scottish duo, the same one that finished joint-fourth at Mission Hills in China two years ago, lying joint-fourth with a team total of 141, four behind Denmark and defending champions United States.
Laird signed for five birdies, with his only blemish coming at the par-4 seventh, while Gallacher started with a double-bogey 6 and also dropped a shot to finish.
The $8 million event is primarily a stroke-play tournament on this occasion and Laird’s start was certainly encouraging for him in his bid to put Ryder Cup points on the board.
The American-based player had thought he’d have to wait until January 1 to take up membership of the European Tour and therefore be eligible for next year’s match at Gleneagles.
But, unexpectedly, he was granted membership for this week’s event and is now trying to play catch up after the Ryder Cup race started in Wales in September.
Björn overcame a four-putt double bogey to sign for a round of 66 and take a share of the lead. He fell victim to Royal Melbourne’s lightning-fast greens on the fourth hole, but bounced back with six birdies to finish the first day level with Streelman on five under par.
Björn and fellow Dane Thorbjørn Olesen are also level with America on five-under in the team event after Olesen signed for a level-par round of 71, the same score as Streelman’s compatriot Matt Kuchar.
Jason Day occupies sixth spot on three-under, but his fellow Australian and the pre-tournament favourite Adam Scott fared less well, carding a 9 on the 12th hole en route to signing for a round of 75.