Thomas Bjorn served early notice on Masters champion Mike Weir today that he was really up for their HSBC World Match Play quarter-final at Wentworth today.
After coming from three down to beat American Len Mattiace four and three yesterday Bjorn led Canadian Weir by two after seven of their 36 holes.
Weir, who beat Mattiace in a play-off for his first major title at Augusta in April, drove into the trees on the 447-yard third and then could not match the Dane’s superb 20-foot eagle putt at the 497-yard next.
Bjorn holds the left-hander in the highest regard, but could not help thinking that the draw had done him a great favour by placing world No 2 Ernie Els and world No 3 in the other half.
Not that they were looking certain to meet in tomorrow’s semi-finals.
Els, on his 34th birthday, was level with South African Tim Clark after 11 holes, while Singh trailed US PGA champion Shaun Micheel by one at the turn.
In the other game shock Open champion Ben Curtis began with a horrid hook and was two down to fellow American Chad Campbell after nine holes.
Els, chasing a record-equalling fifth title, was two-up after Clark bogeyed the second and fifth, but last year’s Open champion was not on his game, missing six of the first nine greens. It cost him the lead with Clark winning the sixth and the eighth, where he hit a nine-iron to 11 feet and made the putt.
Singh and Micheel shared eight of the first nine holes, the odd one out being the short fifth where the American chipped in and Singh, favourite to win the hole until that, then missed from eight feet.
Curtis had to be unnerved by his shocking opening drive – he needed a three-wood for his second whereas Els had hit wedge – but did birdie the second from six feet.
However, Campbell, conqueror of Fredrik Jacobson six and six in the first round, birdied the third and fourth and after bogeying the next returned to two-up when Curtis, 396th in the world when he triumphed at Sandwich, missed the green on the seventh and bogeyed.
Bjorn was back to only one-up when he bogeyed the eighth, while Els moved up a gear with a 30-foot eagle putt at the 12th to lead Clark again.
Singh fell two down by bogeying the 10th – he had still to win a hole after hammering Alex Cejka eight and seven yesterday – but Curtis’ par on the 184-yard 10th was enough to take him one down.