Motivated by the European comeback at Medinah last month, Ross Fisher fired a 6-under 65 Thursday and was joined by Stephen Gallacher atop the leaderboard after the opening round at the Portugal Masters.
'If that doesn't inspire me and all of these other guys to get in the Ryder Cup then you shouldn't be playing the game of golf,' explained Fisher, who was a part of the victorious European Ryder Cup team in 2010. 'I've experienced it in Wales, and it's something that I think...you've played in one, you never want to miss another one.'
The Englishman carded four birdies across five holes after making the turn Thursday, ultimately notching seven birdies against only a single bogey. Gallacher, the nephew of former European Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher, completed his round at Oceanico Victoria without a bogey despite hitting only 5/14 fairways.
Ranked among the top 30 in the world near the end of 2010, Fisher has now gone more than two years without a win on the European Tour and has fallen to 140th in the latest world ranking.
'I think 17th in the world was my best,' Fisher noted. 'I'm not there now, but I'm working hard and I'm improving, so one step at a time and we'll be back hopefully soon enough.'
Playing for the first time since captaining the winning side at Medinah, Jose Maria Olazabal struggled to an opening-round 75. The Spaniard was paired with two players under his guidance in Chicago, Martin Kaymer (69) and Francesco Molinari (71), but was not able to overcome a triple-bogey 7 on the 18th hole, his ninth of the day. Darren Clarke, among the favorites to replace Olazabal as European Ryder Cup captain in 2014, opened with a 1-under 70.