The young Swede showed exactly why he’s been handed one of Luke Donald’s picks by carding a four-under-par 68 that was illuminated by a burst of five straight birdies on the back nine.
In his first outing since getting engaged, the 2022 US Open champion fared best out the Ryder Cuppers as he produced an eight-birdie salvo, sparking the effort with a burst of four gains in five holes from the second.
The Englishman performed solidly, picking up three birdies in the first six holes before dropping his only shot of the day at the par-4 seventh. He then reeled off ten straight pars before closing with a birdie for a 69.
On a day when his patience was tested on more than one occasion, the 2020 winner produced good par saves at the last two holes, including an up and down at the last after putting his approach in the water, to sign for a satisfying 68.
It was a day to forget for the young Dane, another of the captain’s picks, as he struggled to a four-over-par 76, which included double bogeys at both the ninth and 18th, the latter damage being caused by his drive ending up deep in the trees on the left.
Playing in the same group as Ludvig Aberg and Rory McIlroy, the Norwegian admitted he hadn’t produced his best stuff, though three birdies in the last seven holes saw the recent FedEx Cup winner salvage a respectable 69.
Out with Tommy Fleetwood and Sepp Straka, the defending champion covered the opening seven holes in three under before dropping back-to-back shots at the eighth and ninth. But two red figures in the closing seven holes saw him sign for a 69.
The Scot started with a brilliant birdie before seeing a few putts slip past holes on the remainder of the front nine. He birdied the 11th and 12th before holing a good par save at the 13th. But a visit to the water at the 18th for the second of two late bogeys left him fuming and having to settle for a 72.
After his sore finish in the Horizon Irish Open last Sunday, the world No 2 was on the back foot straight away after an opening bogey and, though birdies at the seventh and 13th lifted his mood, he then bogeyed the 14th and 15th before a birdie to finish added up to a 72.
After closing with a sensational 62 when finishing joint-second behind Shane Lowry 12 months ago, the world No 3 had to settle for a one-under 71 on this occasion. On a quiet day by his standards, his cad contained three birdies and two bogeys.
Playing with Bob MacIntyre and Matt Fitzpatrick, the Englishman had Mark ‘Fooch’ Futcher on his bag after they decided to join forces again but a mixed bag of four birdies and four bogeys saw him sign for a 72.
The Austrian, who secured his pick up after landing a second win on the PGA Tour earlier this year and also tying for second in The Open, mixed four birdies with two bogeys on the front nine before reeling off nine straight pars coming home for a 70.