Bjorn under eye of Tiger

Thomas Bjorn’s mind went back to Dubai last year when he teed off with Tiger Woods in Heidelberg today.

Thomas Bjorn’s mind went back to Dubai last year when he teed off with Tiger Woods in Heidelberg today.

More important to the Ryder Cup Dane, though, was whether his game went back 14 months as well.

Bjorn played all four rounds of the Desert Classic with the world number one and achieved the best in of his life when Woods ran up a double bogey seven at the final hole to lose by two.

But while the American promptly won his next three tournaments, including the Masters to complete his clean sweep of the majors, and seven more since, Bjorn has not tasted victory again yet.

Worse than that, he had a third-round 80 last week at the Benson & Hedges International at The Belfry the course where he will face Woods and company in the Ryder Cup in September.

‘‘I’ve just been struggling with my putting big time,’’ said Bjorn. ‘‘The rest of my game is probably better than it’s ever been, but I don’t have the patience to see it through.

‘‘It just gets to me in the end and it did last Saturday. I missed eight birdie chances on the front nine, then it went pear-shaped.

‘‘But partnering Tiger again should concentrate my mind. The attention’s always on right from the start and while it can be annoying if you are not playing well, if you are there’s nothing better.

‘‘I enjoy his company and I normally play well alongside him.’’

They were also paired in the first two rounds of the US Open at Southern Hills last June - and Bjorn outscored Woods by four.

This week’s event is one of the ones Woods won last season. He did so by four shots after trailing by 10 to New Zealander Michael Campbell at halfway.

While Campbell played his last two rounds in 16 shots more than his first two he opened 62-65 Woods played them in eight strokes less, following a third-round 63 with a closing 66.

‘‘I’m just going out to have fun and compete,’’ said the 26-year-old, who if he can capture the US Open in four weeks’ time will be halfway towards the Grand Slam.

Not that that unique feat is on his mind, he insists.

‘‘It was never an ambition of mine to have the Grand Slam,’’ he said. ‘‘You can’t say ‘I want a Grand Slam’ because if you don’t win the Masters that’s your year over.

‘‘You have to take it one at a time. There is a lot that goes into winning a major championship and hopefully I can do it.’’

Darren Clarke and Colin Montgomerie’s current hopes are just that they are fit enough to play today.

Clarke tore a thigh muscle trout-fishing in Hampshire on Monday, Montgomerie suffered a back twinge in yesterday’s pro-am.

They had this morning to receive further treatment before their first round tee-off time.

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox