The first round of the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf was a challenging test of golf at Kingston Heath Golf Club as the professionals combined to represent their countries in the fourball format.
Jon Rahm and Rafa Cabrera-Bello Finding the secret to success was the Spanish team of Rafa Cabrera Bello and Jon Rahm, who made an eagle, two birdies and a lone bogey for a three under par 69 in the alternate shot format.
Cabera-Bello’s ball seemed to defy the laws of gravity by dropping into the hole for birdie at the 18th, setting the seal on a satisfying opening day for the duo.
“That was a fun putt because when I was seeing it, it looked like I couldn’t miss and then all of a sudden it could really miss and I don’t know how it came back,” said Cabera-Bello.
“It’s been a good day. I think we played well. It was obviously tough and tricky with the wind. But Jon played great, I rolled some putts and hit some good shots as well, so I think it was a score we’re proud of but also a score we deserve.”
Cabrera-Bello has not missed a cut all season on the European Tour in 2016, but is still searching for a first win while Rahm is just starting out in his professional career after leaving the amateur ranks following the US Open this summer.
Spain are the fourth most successful country in World Cup history with four wins, but are searching for their first victory since 1984.
Meanwhile, childhood friends Victor Dubuisson and Romain Langasque enjoyed their first round playing together as Team France.
“We are very good friends and for us to play together here, it’s like a dream from back when we were children. So I’m very happy with our score today because it was really tough,” said Dubuisson.
China’s Wu Ashun and Li Haotong had fun on day one knocking in improbable birdies late in the opening foursomes and celebrating wildly with chest bumps.
Wu delighted the large galleries at Kingston Heath with his heroics and exuberance after holing lengthy putts on 16 and 18 to help the team sign for two under par 70.
“It was very good and my partner was playing very well and we made a lot of birdies, so it was very exciting to play,” said Wu, who is a two-time European Tour champion.
“We made I think the best putt [on the last hole]. It was just unbelievable. Li was giving me some ideas on the breaks and talked about speed, it was very fast this afternoon and the winds were blowing too. So we talked a little bit on the line and he said just take it easy, just relax and putt and it goes in. It’s unbelievable.”