ANTALYA, Turkey – Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn and South Africa’s Darren Fichardt shot 8-under 64s and are tied for the lead after the first round at the weather-delayed Turkish Airlines Open was completed on Friday morning.
The Montgomerie Maxx Royal course has been two-faced over the last couple of days, with ideal scoring conditions on Thursday due to the two inches of rainfall, but players were greeted by a club wind on Friday morning, making scoring much more difficult for the 63 players that hadn’t finished on Thursday.
For Stenson, the European Tour’s Finals Series leader, the weather conditions were more than manageable with four birdies over the eight holes he completed on Friday morning to move into a share of the lead.
“I got off to some good playing yesterday and I was in good position when we called it last night and carried on today and made a couple of nice birdies coming in,” Stenson said. “I’m taking one shot at a time. The wrist is not in great shape, so its one day at a time, one shot at a time.”
For Bjorn, his game has been rounding into shape with a victory at the Omega European Masters in September and a tie for fifth at the BMW Masters two weeks ago in Shanghai, the first event in the Final Series.
“I played solid all the way around,” Bjorn said of his bogey-free round. “Kind of had that feeling about this golf course this week that there’s going to be some good numbers, so its important to get something in early and go from here.”
Fichardt is the early surprise on the leaderboard. Having won earlier this year at the Africa Open, the South African has struggled through making swing changes, but now feels the changes have kicked in and just needs the putts to drop.
“At BMW, I was playing well, but I just couldn’t make putts,” Fichardt said. “I got it going the last day at HSBC, but the putter was dead again. But this week, the greens seems to suit my eye.”
For Tiger Woods returning on Friday morning seemed to agree with him as he birdied Nos. 11 and 13 (both par 5s) to move to 3 under, but his second shot on the pa-5 18th hole found the water left and his bogey dropped him to 2 under, good for T-46 and six shots off the lead.
The players had a quick turnaround of less than an hour before they were back on the course for the second round.