Bjorn Edges Ahead in World Cup of Golf

Thomas Bjorn inched a stroke ahead of his fellow 18-hole co-leader, Kevin Streelman in the World Cup of Golf. The 44-year-old Dane carded a 3-under 68 in the $8 million event, which began Thursday at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia.

Bjorn book-ended his Friday outing with bogeys on the first and 18th holes but, in between, carded five birdies to reach 8-under 134, a shot ahead of Streelman.

"A few things happened on the golf course today that really tested me," Bjorn said. "I three-putted the first - I thought the greens were a lot firmer than they were early on . . . I patiently worked my way into the round, maybe not as good as yesterday. But I played some really good stuff on the back nine, and I've got to take that with me into the weekend."

The 35-year-old Streelman, a native of Illinois, got off to a hot start with four straight birdies. But he ran into difficulties on the eighth and ninth holes with a bogey and double-bogey on the two par-4s. He had all pars and a lone birdie - on the par-5 15th - on the home half.

"I kind of just did what you are supposed to on those first four holes," Streelman said. "I hit it in the wrong part of the golf course on No. 8 and No. 9, and Royal Melbourne will bite you when you do that which is what makes it such an awesome golf course."

Four strokes off the pace are Australian Jason Day (70) and Portugal's Ricardo Santos (69). Sharing fifth at 139 are Welshman Stuart Manley (72), Japan's Hideto Tanihara (67), Scotland's Martin Laird (72) and American Matt Kuchar (68).

After opening with a four-birdie, four-bogey 71, No. 7-ranked Kuchar was steadier Friday, posting four birdies and a lone bogey.

No. 2-ranked Adam Scott also played better. The winner of the past two events in his home country - the Australian PGA and Australian Masters, the 33-year-old from Adelaide shot a 68 after starting with a 75 spawned by a quintuple-bogey nine on the 12th hole.

Scott is still not out of it though. He finished the Australian Masters last week at Royal Melbourne at 14-under 270. The 33-year-old Adelaide native only needs to win the Australian Open in Sydney next week to secure the "Australian Slam." A fourth triumph in the World Cup of Golf is being called the "Scotty Slam."

The World Cup of Golf has a new format this year. The 72-hole event formerly pitted two players from the same country in rotating rounds of best-ball and alternate-shot.

But, for the first time, it's now primarily an individual event with a team component. The individual winner receives $7 million, while the remaining $1 million goes to the national team with the lowest combined stroke-play scores

Led by Streelman and Kuchar, the Americans are ahead in the team standings at 10-under 274, three strokes ahead of Denmark. Bjorn's teammate is Thorbjorn Olesen, who's shot rounds of 71 and 72. Australia and Japan are seven behind the Americans. Kuchar and Gary Woodland won the last team event in 2011 in China.

Streelman is aware of the team element to the tournament. "I am definitely keeping my eye on that team score," he said. "I know he (Kuchar) will be there for me and then hopefully I can continue to play well and we can bring it home."

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