Garcia Nightmare as Brits seize lead
Bradley Dredge and Peter Whiteford have shared the first day honours at the BMW International Open in Munich.
Welshman Bradley Dredge and Scot Peter Whiteford have shared the first day honours at the BMW International Open in Munich.
The two each fired blistering eight under par 64s to lead by a shot from Thai Chapchai Nirat, Welshman Phillip Price , Argentine Ariel Canete and Dane
Jeppe Huldahl. They all postede 65s.
Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal and Ireland’s Peter Lawrie are a shot further back in joint 7th place on 6-under.
But if all this was dream stuff for the leaders, the first day’s nightmare belonged to Sergio Garcia, who lies second last after slumping to a five-over 77.
Only little-known German professional Christopher Trunzer, not a European Tour member, is below him.
Garcia, who had two double bogeys in his last three holes, suffered by far the worst of the players who have returned from the US Open and are battling with nine hours of jetlag.
Ernie Els, third at Pebble Beach, bogeyed the last two holes for a 70, while world number eight Paul Casey returned a 68.
Neither Dredge nor Whiteford were involved in the second major of the year. They are 173rd and 203rd in the world respectively, but that still makes them higher-ranked than the four players who are their closest overnight challengers.
Nirat is 287th, Huldahl 290th and Canete 448th, while Dredge’s compatriot Price, the other man to shoot 65, has dropped to 982nd in the rankings since his Ryder Cup win over Phil Mickelson eight years ago.
Dredge set the early target after turning in 33, making an eagle on the long 11th and then finishing with three birdies in a row.
The 36-year-old, whose last European Tour win came four years ago, said: “There was virtually no wind and the course was probably the easiest I’ve ever played it.
“I’m surprised there were not more low scores. It’s a matter of consistency at the moment – when I play well I play very well, but on an off-day it’s a mid-70 round, which isn’t going to to do you any good.”
Whiteford graduated from the Challenge Tour for a second time at the end of last season, but has almost done enough already to secure his card for next year after being a runner-up in Malaga in March.
The 29-year-old from Kirkcaldy, who eagled the 481-yard sixth and kept a bogey off his card just like Dredge, commented: “It sounds stupid, but I’m not swinging it that great.
“I was terrible in practice and it was a bit of a struggle to be honest, but sometimes that’s when you play your best golf.
“When you are not 100% confident you don’t take on the flags and that’s kind of what I was doing. It paid off.”
Past and present Ryder Cup captains Sir Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie are all in the field and while the last two shot 70 Faldo managed only a 76 in his first event since last year’s Open.
“It’s just scary,” said the six-time major winner, who decided on the event as a warm-up exercise for The Open at St Andrews in three weeks.
“I didn’t make a follow-through on the front nine, but I felt a bit more comfortable after that.”
Faldo did, though, out-score Garcia and having watched him a fair amount while commentating on American television he sees a player “just not with it.”
He did not think too much should be read into the Spaniard’s score because of the time difference from California, but commented: “I know there’s a lot going on – in his game, his life, his family. Everything is on a downward spiral right now.”
Last month in Madrid Garcia missed his first halfway cut on European soil for nearly six years. Tomorrow it could be two in a row at home for the first time as a professional.
He has not had a top-three finish for 19 months and has dropped from second to 36th in the world in that time, but when asked if tiredness was a factor this time he said: “Not really.”
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