Snedeker crushes Bjorn with loaner clubs at Match Play


CASARES, Spain – Brandt Snedeker worked wonders with a loaned set of clubs to begin the World Match Play Championship, crushing Thomas Bjorn of Denmark, 5 and 4, on Thursday.

The lone American in the 24-man field teed off with only 10 clubs in his replacement bag – including a putter bought from the pro shop and a driver borrowed from Australian rival John Senden – while his normal set was being couriered from the airport following a delay in the arrival of his luggage in Spain.

Volvo Match Play Championship scoring

Highlights of the first-round action

By the time his clubs arrived at the Finca Cortesin course – allowing him to fill his bag to the maximum 14 – Snedeker was 3 up after three holes. Such was his form with his newly purchased putter, he continued with it rather than use his own and holed from off the green on No. 14 to clinch victory.

'I didn't like my chances on the first tee,' Snedeker said. 'I just thought, 'Go out there and see if I could try to beat him, try to do what I could with what I was playing with.''

There were opening-day wins for Ian Poulter of England, who started his title defense by beating Senden, 3 and 2, and Justin Rose, who battered Robert Rock, 7 and 6, in an all-English contest. Also, 1999 British Open champion Paul Lawrie rallied to defeat Peter Hanson of Sweden, 2 and 1.

But there was no doubting the standout story, which continued Snedeker's remarkable few days since missing the cut at The Players Championship last week.

His flight from Miami to Madrid on Monday ahead of a first visit to Spain was interrupted when a fellow passenger suffered a heart attack, forcing his plane to make an emergency landing in the Azores. He played Wednesday's pro-am deprived of sleep and with some borrowed clubs and only discovered on Thursday morning that his own set wouldn't be arriving until after he had teed off against Bjorn.

Rose offered Snedeker his putter but the American went with the one he bought, plus Senden's driver and a set of irons.

Snedeker had to be granted permission from tour officials to add four of his own clubs – a 3-wood, hybrid, lob wedge and putter.

'Kind of a weird day to say the least,' Snedeker said. 'They haven't charged me for the putter yet. I'm sure it will be a hundred bucks but it will be well worth it.'

Snedeker, who made six birdies in total and can guarantee a place in the last 16 with a win over Branden Grace on Friday, believes winning the tournament would help his attempts to earn a spot in United States' Ryder Cup team for the September series against Europe in Medinah.

'It would be pretty tough for (captain) Davis (Love III) to find an excuse to leave me off the team,' he said.

Poulter is many people's favorite this week owing to his strong match-play record, and he held on against Senden after birdies on Nos. 3 and 9. He added another with a 30-foot putt on No. 15.

'It's refreshing to get back to match-play golf,' said Poulter, who has won eight of a possible 11 points in Ryder Cup matches and is the only player to have captured match-play titles on both sides of the Atlantic.

If Senden loses to Tom Lewis in Friday's early matches, Poulter will qualify for the last 16 before playing his second and last match in the round-robin stage.

Rose birdied the first five holes on his way to overwhelming Rock, while Sergio Garcia won three of his final five holes to beat fellow Spaniard Alvaro Quiros, 2 and 1, in increasingly overcast conditions.