Thomas Bjorn says he’s enjoying life as a late addition to the British Open field.
The Dane, who entered the tournament as an alternate when Vijay Singh withdrew three days ago, shot 5-under-par 65 to hold a one-stroke advantage in the first round at Royal St. George’s. In 2003, the last time the Open was held at the course in Sandwich, England, Bjorn blew a three-shot lead with four holes to play. This time, he said, he’s playing relaxed.
“I just kind of promised myself to try and enjoy it,” Bjorn said at a news conference. “I never really expected to play in it, so there’s no reason to get too uptight. I knew I wasn’t coming in in the greatest of form, so just try and enjoy really being down here and try to use it more to find some form.”
He recorded seven birdies and two bogeys in his round and leads Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez by one stroke. It was Bjorn’s best round ever at the Open.
The 40-year-old has struggled with his game since his father died in May. He had a hard time controlling his emotions when asked how his late father would have felt seeing him in the lead.
“He meant a lot to me,” a teary Bjorn said, taking a moment to compose himself. “He would have been very proud of what I did today.”
In addition to the late entry, Bjorn had to overcome his past failure at Royal St. George’s. He said what happened eight years ago, when he tied with Singh for second a shot behind winner Ben Curtis, is in the past.
“I got myself in that position in ‘03 and that was my biggest chance to win a major championship,” Bjorn said. “I’ve always promised myself I’ll keep going and keep going. I look ahead and I always look ahead.”