Streelman & Bjorn Share Lead in World Cup of Golf

Thomas Bjorn and Kevin Streelman fired 5-under 66s to take the first-round lead in the World Cup of Golf. The $8 million event began Thursday at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia.

Bjorn, a 44-year-old Dane, carded eight birdies and a double-bogey on the par-4 fourth. Streelman, a 35-year-old from Illinois, was sailing along with seven birdies through 15 holes to take the outright lead, but bogeyed both the 16th and 18th - each par-4s - for his 66.

After the early double Bjorn wasn't sure how the rest of his round would pan out. "I thought, 'Well, this could be a long day,' but I just kind of kept my composure and made some good birdies and kept playing solid," he told reporters. "It is, in my eyes, probably the finest golf course you can ever play."

Streelman, whose first and only PGA Tour win came in March at the Tampa Bay Championship, was just happy to get off to a good start. "I made some good birdie putts today and some par saves as well, so pretty happy," he said.

Stuart Manley of Wales, South Korea's K.J. Choi and Scotland's Martin Laird are tied for third after 67s, while Aussie Jason Day posted a 68. Portugal's Ricardo Santos and England's Danny Willett opened with 69s.

One of the highest-ranked players in the international, 60-man field, No. 7 Matt Kuchar, carded a 71, a score matched by Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen, giving the Yanks and the Danes the lead in the team component of the competition.

Another pre-tournament favorite, Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell, shot a 1-over 72.

The top-ranked player, No. 2 Adam Scott, got off to a rugged start. Coming off wins the past two weeks in the Australian PGA and Australian Masters - also at Royal Melbourne, he posted a 75.

After making the turn in 1-under followed by two straight pars on the back nine, Scott's round came unglued when he quintuple-bogeyed the par-4 12th when he hit both his first and provisional tee shots into thick brush alongside the fairway.

It was an uncharacteristic lapse for the crowd favorite and 2013 Masters' champion at Augusta National, who finished the round with four pars, a birdie on the 13th and a bogey at the 15th.

"Just a couple of lazy swings today on 12 and paid the price," Scott owned up later. "Just away with the fairies. It's a little disappointing to do that, stuff can happen. That's why you play good tracks like this, you need to be switched on at all times.

"You have days like this. You have to let them go sometimes," Scott added. "I am letting this one go."

All is not lost for Scott, who 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 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.

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