|Spain surge into World Cup lead|
Tournament: World Cup of Golf
Venue: Kingston Heath Golf Club, Melbourne, Australia
Prize fund: US$ 8million
First Round Report
Spain opened up a one-shot lead on day one of the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf as Rafa Cabrera Bello and Jon Rahm recorded a 69 on a tough day of scoring in Melbourne.
With the wind making life tricky at Kingston Heath Golf Club, birdies were at a premium in the opening foursomes as the tournament returned to the schedule for the first time since 2013.
A birdie on the last, where Cabera-Bello’s ball seemed to defy the laws of gravity by dropping into the hole, got the Spaniards to three under par, one shot clear of China, France and the United States as European Tour Members dominated the upper echelons of the leaderboard.
England and Italy, whose impressive early momentum was brought to a juddering halt by a triple bogey eight on the par five 12th hole, were then on one under par heading into Friday’s first set of fourballs.
Just six of the 28 teams finished under par, with pre-tournament favourites Australia struggling in a round of 74.
Cabrera Bello has not missed a cut all season in 2016, but is still searching for a first win while Rahm is just starting out in his professional career after joining the paid ranks following the US Open this summer.
Spain are the fourth most successful country in World Cup history with four wins, but are searching for their first victory since 1984.
France, China and the United States had all set the clubhouse target on two under and it looked as though a round in the 60s would be out of reach, before Cabrera Bello saw his 15-footer miraculously drop into the cup on the 18th.
The duo had bogeyed the fourth hole, but a brilliant Rahm approach to the eighth allowed Cabrera Bello to sink the only successful eagle putt of the day, before another birdie followed on the 12th.
Rafa Cabrera Bello (Spain): “It was a fun putt on the last because it looked like I couldn’t miss, but then all of a sudden it did miss so I don’t know how it came back. So it was a good end to a good day. It was tough and tricky in the wind. But Jon played great, I rolled in some nice putts and hit some good shots as well, so I think it was a score we’re proud of but also a score we deserve.
Jon Rahm (Spain): “This kind of course and this type of golf than what I’m used to playing in the States. But we planned our strategy which had me hitting most of the tee shots. And then he hit a couple of great shots, rolled some putts in and that’s pretty much what we needed. But it wasn’t so much about hitting great shots, it was more about avoiding mistakes and we did that perfectly.”
Victor Dubuisson (France): “We are very good friends and for us to play together here, it’s like a dream from back when we were children. I’m very happy with our score today because it was really tough.”
Wu Ashun (China): “It was very good and my partner was playing very well and we made a lot of birdies, so it was very exciting to play.
“We made I think the best putt [on the last hole]. It was just unbelievable. Li was giving me some ideas on the breaks and talked about speed, it was very fast this afternoon and the winds were blowing too. So we talked a little bit on the line and he said just take it easy, just relax and putt and it goes in. It’s unbelievable.”
Jimmy Walker (America): “I think we got everything out of the round that we could’ve done today, and that’s what it takes to play well and stay in a golf tournament. We didn’t have the easiest bunker shots, there were a couple of them where we were short-sided and I gave Rickie a couple of tough putts, but he buried them.
“The course played tough today, it really did. I thought starting out today that if you shot anything under par, it was going to be pretty good. All the par fives played straight into the wind today. So we had to battle all day, and it really was a battle at times but I feel like we came out on top.”
Adam Scott (Australia): “I think it was just the wind. It’s very tough to gauge exactly what’s going on out there when it’s blustery.
“We had no momentum today but in these conditions, it’s about as hard as it gets playing foursomes in blustery conditions around a tricky course.”
Round One Scores:
1 Rafa CABRERA BELLO / Jon RAHM ESP 69 -3
2 WU Ashun / LI Haotong CHN 70 -2
Victor DUBUISSON / Romain LANGASQUE FRA 70 -2
Rickie FOWLER / Jimmy WALKER USA 70 -2
5 Francesco MOLINARI / Matteo MANASSERO ITA 71 -1
Chris WOOD / Andy SULLIVAN ENG 71 -1
7 Alex NOREN / David LINGMERTH SWE 72 0
Shane LOWRY / Graeme MCDOWELL IRL 72 0
Søren KJELDSEN / Thorbjørn OLESEN DEN 72 0
10 Thongchai JAIDEE / Kiradech APHIBARNRAT THA 73 1
Hideki MATSUYAMA / Ryo ISHIKAWA JPN 73 1
Thomas PIETERS / Nicolas COLSAERTS BEL 73 1
Bernd WIESBERGER / Martin WIEGELE AUT 73 1
14 Bradley DREDGE / Stuart MANLEY WAL 74 2
Byeong Hun AN / K.T. KIM KOR 74 2
C.T. Pan / CHAN Shih-chang TPE 74 2
S.S.P CHAWRASIA / CHIKKARANGAPPA S IND 74 2
Jhonattan VEGAS / Julio VEGAS VEN 74 2
Adam SCOTT / Marc LEISHMAN AUS 74 2
Ricardo GOUVEIA / José-Filipe LIMA POR 74 2
Alex CEJKA / Stephan JAEGER GER 74 2
22 Joost LUITEN / Darius VAN DRIEL NED 75 3
David HEARN / Adam HADWIN CAN 75 3
Danny LEE / Ryan FOX NZL 75 3
25 Jaco VAN ZYL / George COETZEE RSA 76 4
26 Miguel TABUENA / Angelo QUE PHI 77 5
Danny CHIA / Nicholas FUNG MAS 77 5
28 Russell KNOX / Duncan STEWART SCO 78 6