Streelman, Bjorn lead World Cup Down Under

Thu Nov 21, 2013 3:16am EST
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - American Kevin Streelman bogeyed two of his last three holes to fall back into a share of a one-stroke lead with Denmark's Thomas Bjorn after the first round of the $8 million World Cup of Golf on Thursday, as the headline acts toiled Down Under.

Streelman, a late choice to represent the defending champion United States team, had torn up Royal Melbourne's back nine with five birdies in six holes but dropped shots on the tricky 16th and 18th to card a 66 and join Bjorn on five-under.

The pair finished a stroke ahead of Welshman Stuart Manley, South Korea's K.J. Choi and Scotland's Martin Laird.

"I was very pleased with that start," the 35-year-old Streelman told reporters after upstaging world number seven compatriot Matt Kuchar (71), who won the last World Cup for the U.S. with Gary Woodland in 2011 when it was purely a team event.

"It's just an incredible golf course, I love it... I just had a lot of fun there to be honest."

The tournament's format has been changed from being solely a team event to primarily an individual one with a team component.

Sixty players are competing for individual honors while 26 two-player teams are competing for the team prize.

Having given themselves every chance of winning the individual trophy, Streelman and European Tour journeyman Bjorn also put their nations in the box seat for team honors.   Continued...

Kevin Streelman of the U.S. watches his tee shot on the third hole during the final round of the Wells Fargo Championship PGA golf tournament at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina May 5, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Keane