Ireland, Austria lead in Golf World Cup

Ireland's Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley shared the lead with the little-known Austrian duo of Martin Wiegele and Markus Brier.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:04 IST
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Seville:Ireland's Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley shared the lead with the little-known Austrian duo of Martin Wiegele and Markus Brier after the first round of the World Cup in Seville on Thursday. They were tied at 12-under-par after rounds of 60 as low scoring highlighted the opening day of the final World Golf Championships (WGC) tournament of the season. England's Paul Casey and Luke Donald were one shot off the lead after a 61, followed by Japan's Shigeki Maruyama and Hidemichi Tanaka, who were at 10-under and Spain's Sergio Garcia and Miguel Angel Jimenez, a shot further back. The South African pairing of Trevor Immelman and Rory Sabbatini went into the first round of the WGC-World Cup of Golf at Seville's Real Golf Club looking to defend the title they won 12 months ago at Kiawah Island in South Carolina. The playing format for the tournament, which is contested by 24 nations with minimum prize money of $4 million US dollars, is a mix of fourballs and foursomes or alternate shot. The tournament began on Thursday with the opening fourball format. Sabbatini chipped in for a birdie at the first, but South Africa were unable to maintain that start and ended in 15th place at six-under after a round of 66. Spain, in the shape of Sergio Garcia, the second-highest world-ranked player in Seville at number nine, and four-times 2004 European Tour winner Miguel Angel Jimenez, started as tournament favourites. They were in fifth place at 9-under after an opening round 63. The Japanese team of Shigeki Maruyama and Hidemichi Tanaka were at 10-under after a 62 left them in fourth place. Nine Americans, including Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Davis Love III, turned down the chance to represent the United States. In their place, Scott Verplank and Bob Tway flew the US flag and they finished the first day in a tie for sixth place at 8-under after a 64. Joakim Haeggman, the first Swedish player to play in the Ryder Cup, produced one of the shots of the day when his second to the par five 16th hole set up an eagle which he went on to take. Haeggman and Frederik Jacobson were tied with the USA, Germany, Australia, Denmark and Scotland at 8-under. England's Paul Casey and Luke Donald shot 11 birdies in their round of 61 and finished in third place, one shot behind the joint-leaders. World number eight Padraig Harrington, the highest-ranked player in the field, partnered his Ryder Cup team mate Paul McGinley for Ireland. The Irish pair, World Cup winners at Kiawah Island in 1997, moved into the outright lead at 10-under on the 13th hole when McGinley chipped in from the bunker for an eagle three. McGinley was the dominant player, twice chipping in from sand as he ran in an eagle and five birdies, but Harrington also contributed to Ireland taking the lead at 12-under after a round of 60. They were joined at the top of the leaderboard by the unheralded Austrian pairing of Markus Brier, ranked 221st in the world, and Martin Wiegele, world number 501. Brier contributed eight of their 12 birdies, but Wiegele's birdie on the last gave them a round of 60 and took Austria to 12-under and a share of the lead. Friday will feature foursomes action before the format switches back to fourballs on Saturday and then to foursomes on the final day. (AP)

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