Faxon to the fore in Scotland
Brad Faxon and Brett Quigley instantly made their presence felt at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Thursday.
Americans Brad Faxon and Brett Quigley instantly made their presence felt at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland today.
Former Ryder Cup player Faxon, who at 48 would be the European Tour’s oldest winner if he lifted the title on Sunday, birdied three of his first five holes at Carnoustie.
And playing partner Quigley, who in an 18-year career on the US circuit has earned over US$10million without ever capturing a tournament, followed suit each time.
On three under par the pair shared top spot with Singapore’s Lam Chih-bing and were one ahead of a group which included Scot Richie Ramsay, Ryder Cup Dane Soren Hansen and last year’s Masters champion Trevor Immelman.
But Immelman’s fellow South African Ernie Els, playing with his father Neels in the pro-celebrity event, had a real mixed bag of a start.
Els birdied the 12th and eagled the 14th, the other par five on the inward half, but also bogeyed the 10th, 13th and short 16th, where he three-putted from off the green on the right.
Faxon, a member of the 1995 and 1997 Ryder Cup teams, underwent cruciate ligament surgery on his right leg at the end of 2007 and was out for eight months.
He has played 20 events this year but has missed the cut in 16 of them and earned only £30,000.
Quigley has been a runner-up three times this season and has earned over a million dollars, but is still searching for that elusive first victory.
Ramsay received a late call-up to the event, replacing the injured Paul Casey, and it could be his saviour.
The former US amateur champion is still trying to fight his way into the top 115 on the money list who keep their cards for next year.
Like Faxon, Quigley and Immelman he was competing at Carnoustie and it was a good day to be on the toughest of the three courses used this week.
Winds of 40mph are forecast for Saturday’s third round, but they will all be at Kingsbarns by then.
Faxon and Quigley both bogeyed the 472-yard 15th to slip to two under, two behind new pacesetter Jeppe Huldahl.
The Dane, who won the Wales Open in June, was at Kingsbarns and birdied the third, fifth, sixth and eighth.
It put him one ahead of Hansen, Ryder Cup team-mate Oliver Wilson and Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey, winner of the Portuguese Open in April.
Els sank an 18-foot putt to birdie the 18th and turned in a one-under 35, Luke Donald was on the same mark after six and Ross Fisher – loser of a play-off to Robert Karlsson last year – after five.
However, Nick Dougherty, winner two years ago, made a nightmare start at Carnoustie when he double-bogeyed the 10th and bogeyed the next, while Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie double-bogeyed the 10th as well.
A year from now Montgomerie will be watching his European team in first-day action against the Americans at Celtic Manor – weather permitting, of course – but today he was partnering one-handicapper Tim Henman.
Early leaders in the team event were Hansen and Kieran McManus, 28-year-old son of Irish businessman JP, who was again partnering Padraig Harrington.
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