Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn overcame testing conditions and an encounter with overhead power lines to make the perfect start to his attempt to seal a Ryder Cup place on home soil.
Bjorn has not played in the biennial contest since 2002, but has occupied an automatic qualifying spot since winning the Nedbank Golf Challenge in December last year.
The 43-year-old dropped out of the European points list recently and is now relying on the world points list, but looks to have done enough to make the European team which will defend the trophy at Gleneagles in September.
Victory in the inaugural Made In Denmark event would make absolutely certain and Bjorn was determined to impress a sell-out crowd, with more than 70,000 spectators expected at Himmerland Golf & Spa Resort, where Bjorn won his first event as a professional in 1995.
The world No 24 duly delivered, carding a flawless opening 66 to share the lead with Chile’s Felipe Aguilar and Welshman Bradley Dredge on five under par. Fellow Dane Thorbjorn Olesen was three behind after a 69.
Tiger Woods will not be in the United States team for the Ryder Cup after removing himself from consideration for a captain’s pick due to injury.
The 38-year-old failed to qualify for the team outright and has now informed the PGA of America and Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson that, after playing just four tournaments on his return to action following back surgery, he does not wish to be considered for one of the three remaining places.
Woods had back surgery in March and has admitted he will not be fit to play at Gleneagles.