Hanson tells of his Ryder upset


PETER HANSON has expressed his disappointment at not playing in the Ryder Cup on Saturday – and said of captain Jose Maria Olazabal: “I might not send him that many Christmas cards”.

The Swede was left out of the middle day’s play just like Martin Kaymer, but while the German came back to hole the all-important cup-winning putt in the singles Hanson lost to Jason Dufner and so was the only European not to contribute something toward the team total.

“The Ryder Cup kind of hurt my confidence a little bit,” he said yesterday after starting the Dunhill Links Championship at Carnoustie with a level par 72 on his 35th birthday.

“I came in full of confidence after the win in Holland and played really well during the practice rounds. I was feeling great and just wanted to get out there and play.

“When I didn’t get to play more than 14 holes on the first couple of days (he and Paul Lawrie lost their fourball 54 to Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson) that really got to me. I think that hurt my performance a little bit on the Sunday, even if I shot a couple under.

“I think to put on a really good round on Sunday I would have needed to play a bit more.”

Asked if he spoke to Olazabal, Hanson added: “I did a little bit, but it’s hard. You’re part of a team and when I got notified 20 minutes before we teed off on Saturday I got very upset.

“I didn’t take that very well, but I just locked myself in a dark room and stayed there for a couple of hours. You don’t want to let your bad feelings affect the other guys. It’s all about getting out there and supporting your team-mates, so I was out there Saturday afternoon walking the fairways.

“I think in that respect I didn’t damage the team and that was the main thing. You can’t let your ego affect the rest of the team.

“I was so sure I was going to play, so I actually went out and played a couple of holes Saturday morning and did my warm-up early in the day.

“When I got notified I was actually filling in the pinsheet in my book, so that’s probably why I got so upset. I was already in game mode.”

South African Branden Grace yesterday equalled the European Tour record with a round of 60 at Kingsbarns in the first round of the Dunhill Links Championship.

Already with three European Tour titles to his name this season, the 24-year-old knocked two strokes off Lee Westwood’s course record thanks to an eagle and 10 birdies – five of them in a row to finish with.

Fourteen players have now shot 60 on the circuit – Darren Clarke has done it twice – and like so many of the others Grace came off saying: “It could have been a 59”.

The Pretoria golfer leads Victor Dubuisson by two, the Frenchman’s 62 at St Andrews yesterday also being a course record, while many of the big guns were left trailing in his wake after they battled with the far tougher Carnoustie.

The three Ryder Cup team members in the field – Lawrie, Kaymer and Hanson – returned 75, 70 and 72 respectively, with Lawrie commenting on his return to the course where he won the 1999 Open: “I was a little bit tired obviously, but the first 12 holes were my worst ball-striking of the year.”

Current Open champion Ernie Els had to play the last eight in three under just for a 73, while Paul McGinley, favourite to take over from Olazabal as Europe’s captain, struggled to a 76 and is down near the rear of the 168-strong field.

Highlight of the Irishman’s day, in fact, was partnering Olympic and Paralympic runner Oscar Pretorius in the celebrity pro-am. “It was a real honour to be in his company,” he said.

When Westwood had his 62 at Kingsbarns in 2003 it included an albatross two on the ninth, but Grace needed nothing as extraordinary as that.

“I never really made anything long,” he said. “It was all 12 to 15-footers and it’s nice just to have a bogey-free round on a links.

“We were lucky with the weather, but you still have to get it in the right spots and get it around.”

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