Bjorn burns the midnight oil to straighten out his putts

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 November, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 November, 2004, 12:00am

As darkness set over Silport Golf Club last night, one player was still out there trying to sink putts - Thomas Bjorn. The Dane played 'some of my best golf in a long time', but could only finish with a one-under 71 - thanks to an eagle on the par-five 18th.

Bjorn, the favourite to win the US$166,000 first prize, is only four shots off the lead and well within striking distance.

'I just couldn't get it in the hole,' he said. 'And then I holed the one on the last and that is going to make it an easier ride back to the hotel tonight. I'll go to the putting green until it gets dark and be back here at first light.'

Bjorn played with co-leader Bradley Dredge and had to suffer as the Welshman made putts and the Dane's slipped by. 'On the greens it was a struggle. It becomes tough when putts roll by. I kept giving myself birdie chances but it didn't happen. There are no excuses, I also putted poorly in Japan last week,' he said, despite a seventh-place finish.

Bjorn, who has banished 'inner demons' which forced him to quit during a round earlier this year, refused to get down on himself. 'One thing you can't do in the first round of a tournament is to get too down on yourself. I'm four off the lead, it's not a big disaster.

'It's a marathon not a sprint and it's not won on the first day. I'm quite happy as it was a tough day. It could have been anything from a 63 to where I am.'