the World Match Play Championship, which dates back to 1964, has never seen anything quite like Brandt Snedeker’s victory over Thomas Bjorn in Spain yesterday.
The 31-year-old American began his opening group game with just 10 clubs in his bag 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 yesterday morning, then were driven to Finca Cortesin an hour away and 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 professional’s shop that he continued with them.
“The driver worked really well, so I think it’s mine now and no longer his,” said the three-times US PGA Tour winner, who hopes to use this week to impress American Ryder Cup captain Davis Love.
Bjorn has been suffering from a virus lately and could not recover from bogeying the opening three holes, falling five down after six and losing 5&4.
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 won the title last year after failing to win either of his group matches – he halved them both.
Poulter yesterday secured a 3&2 win over Senden.
Former Open champion Paul Lawrie started his 500th European Tour event with a 2&1 victory over the higher-ranked Hanson and Graeme McDowell scored a thrilling last-green win over Karlsson.
Kaymer lost 3&2 to Dubai Desert Classic winner Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Sergio Garcia, came from behind to beat compatriot Quiros 2&1.
Last year’s Masters champion Charl Schwartzel halved with Nicolas Colsaerts.
Hull’s Richard Finch is in action today with matches against Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Kaymer.