By Tony Jimenez
Veteran Dane Thomas Bjorn crammed eight birdies and an eagle in a sizzling 10-under 62 on Thursday, firing the lowest score in relation to par in the history of the BMW PGA Championship.
The 43-year-old’s timing was impeccable as he finished his round just before a torrential downpour forced play to be suspended because of a threat of lightning.
Bjorn, 15-times a winner on the European Tour, matched the nine-under 62 recorded by Robert Karlsson in 2010 but the Swede’s effort came when the par for the West Course at Wentworth was 71.
The Dane, who did not drop a stroke all day, reached the turn in 32 with birdies at the second, fourth and seventh.
Early starter Bjorn then put his foot firmly on the gas on the homeward trek, adding an eagle three at the 12th to birdies at the 10th, 11th, 14th, 16th and 18th.
The winner of the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa in December said his outstanding display came as something of a shock after he missed the cut at last week’s Spanish Open.
“Last week was awful and I was starting to feel a bit frustrated with things. It hasn’t been great in practice either,” Bjorn told reporters.
“To go out on this golf course of all places and play like I did today is a little bit surprising,” he added after finishing five strokes ahead of South African Justin Walters and six in front of German Martin Kaymer and Englishman David Horsey.
“It was one of those days where you just walk off the golf course and you think, I want to keep playing.”
Bjorn made his first appearance at the PGA Championship in 1996 but has rarely performed well at the tournament, a tie for fifth place in 1998 being his best finish.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve actually had any sort of result on this golf course,” he said. “On the European Tour there’s no bigger stage than this.
“It’s the players’ event, we have a lot of heart in this event, we are very proud of it and to come out and play great is just special.
“Apart from major championships and World Golf Championships everybody on this tour looks forward to it and wants to compete in it.”
Bjorn said the overnight rain had made Ernie Els’ redesigned layout simpler to attack
“It certainly made it easier, there’s no doubt about that,” he added. “The fairways are fairly bouncy still but this golf course, if you just keep it out of all Ernie’s bunkers you’ve got a chance.
“I drove the ball well today and kept myself out of trouble on most holes and when it softens a little bit there are opportunities out there.”
World number 10 Rory McIlroy, who announced his split with fiancee Caroline Wozniacki on the eve of the European Tour’s flagship event, was among the late starters.