Snedeker makes light of missing clubs

Brandt Snedeker

Brandt Snedeker

First published in National Sport © by

In a history going back to 1964 the World Match Play Championship has never seen anything quite like Brandt Snedeker's victory over Thomas Bjorn in Spain.

The 31-year-old American began his opening group game with just 10 clubs in his bag and yet won the first three holes before more arrived. Snedeker was forced to seek replacements when his usual set went missing en route from Florida on Monday. They eventually showed up at Malaga Airport and were taken to him on the fourth tee.

Under the rules he was allowed only to add four to those he had started with, but was so happy with the driver he had borrowed from Australian John Senden and the putter he had chosen in the pro shop that he continued with them. Snedeker continued to prosper and wrapped up a 5&4 victory over the Dane at Finca Cortesin.

"The driver worked really well, so I think it's mine now and no longer his," said the three-time PGA Tour winner, who hopes to use this week to impress American Ryder Cup captain Davis Love.

"It was kind of a weird day to say the least. I didn't like my chances at all actually - I knew Thomas was a world-class player and it was pretty windy, so I knew it favoured him."

It was not the biggest defeat of the day, however. Robert Rock crashed 7&6 to fellow Englishman Justin Rose, who birdied the first five holes, winning four of them, and later added two more.

The week is not yet over for Bjorn, Rock and the other five who lost on the opening day - Swedes Peter Hanson and Robert Karlsson, Senden, Alvaro Quiros and top seed Martin Kaymer, under the revised format since Volvo took over sponsorship of the famous event.

They could yet make it through to the last 16 if they win their second games. Ian Poulter, who despatched Senden 3&2, won the title last year after failing to win either of his group matches - he halved them both.

Scot Paul Lawrie started his 500th European Tour event with a 2&1 victory over the higher-ranked Hanson. Lawrie and Hanson now have to play Colombian Camilo Villegas, while Graeme McDowell next meets South African Jbe Kruger after his thrilling last-green win over Karlsson.

Kaymer lost 3&2 to Dubai Desert Classic winner Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Spain's other winner was Sergio Garcia, who came from behind to beat compatriot Quiros 2&1. There was also one halved game, last year's Masters champion Charl Schwartzel making birdie on the last to square things against last year's surprise semi-finalist Nicolas Colsaerts.

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