Stephen Gallacher makes solid start as Bjorn sets new record

Thomas Bjorn shakes hands with Stephen Gallacher
Thomas Bjorn shakes hands with Stephen Gallacher
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Stephen Gallacher enjoyed watching one of the great rounds in European Tour history as Thomas Bjorn set a new course record at Wentworth.

“He was impressive,” admitted Gallacher of his playing partner as the great Dane shot a ten-under-par 62 in the opening round of the BMW PGA Championship.

It earned Bjorn a two-shot lead in the clubhouse as 33 players returned to the West Course early this morning to complete their round following two delays due to bad weather.

“He didn’t do anything wrong and took all his chances,” added Gallacher.

“He drove it well and hit a couple of really good shots when he was in the rough. At the 12th, for example, he was in the left rough and hit a rescue to six foot. It was good to watch.”

Gallacher himself signed for a two-under 70 – a score that was matched by fellow Scots Richie Ramsay, Craig Lee and Peter Whiteford. “It could have been better but it was a solid round,” said the Lothians star of a bogey-free effort.

“That is as good as I have played for a while. I hit my irons lovely and gave myself a lot of chances, but I just couldn’t quite convert them.

“I mis-read a couple and hit a couple too hard. It was just one of those days.

“On the back nine, I could have come back in a really low score. I missed from about four foot at ten. I three putted 12 from just off the back and then I missed from four foot at 14 and the same at 16.

“I think I was basically inside ten or 12 feet for every hole in, which is good. I am happy with that - I just need to go hit a few putts.”

On a day dubbed “Black for Mac” - a tribute to Iain McGregor, the caddie who died during the recent Madeira Islands Open – Gallacher’s attire included a cap that bore those words.

“It was a nice touch of TaylorMade to do that,” he said. “He was a good lad and, of course, he was caddying for Alastair [Forsyth] at the time.”

Lothians-based Ramsay finished birdie-birdie-par for his two-under start, while Fifer Whiteford was also encouraged by opening with that.

“I’ve gone back to my old coach, Donald McKay, again,” revealed Whiteford. “It didn’t work out with someone else, unfortunately.

“The problem is I don’t have a safe shot and it’s nerve wracking like that, but if you get in play you can always work an iron.

“This last eight months is as bad as I’ve played in my entire life. I was okay for a week or so after Korea [when he lost a play-off in last year’s Ballantine’s Championship] but then lost it and just haven’t quite got it back again.

“It’s on the mend now, though, I think. If I can drive the ball better I can compete I think. But when you’ve not got a safe shot it makes it exciting but not particularly enjoyable.”

Elsewhere, North Berwick’s Catriona Matthew shot an eight-under-par 64 to set the clubhouse target in the Airbus LPGA Classic in Alabama.

And, in the US Senior PGA Championship in Michigan, Andrew Oldcorn was eight shots off the pace after an opening three-over 74.