GLENEAGLES, SCOTLAND // Thomas Bjorn, who for so long wintered in the Middle East, handed in a 10 over par 82 which left him 14 shots off the early first-round lead in the Johnnie Walker championship. When, at the end, he was summoned for a drug test, there was the mischievous suggestion that he had been singled out because his golf had been so extraordinarily poor. Bjorn himself would have enjoyed that crack but there is, in fact, a worrying explanation for his high tally.
For the last couple of months, Bjorn has been suffering from dizzy spells and exhaustion to the point where he was at one point sleeping between 15 and 16 hours a day. He had a brain scan but, to use his own well-chosen words, "They found a brain but nothing else." Bjorn's own theory is that he has "hit the wall" after years of endless travelling, jet-lag and erratic hours. A two months' break he has had since July may or may not have done him good, but another problem in the life of a tournament professional is that impatience does not take too long to kick in.
"My golf is very rusty but I had to get back out here," said Bjorn, who has entered several events in a row in the hope of playing through this darker spell. Scotland's Steven O'Hara was one of four of the morning players to hand in a 68, the others being Wade Ormsby, Gregory Havret and Ake Nilsson. Colin Montgomerie is always being asked why none among the latest generation of Scots has come close to matching his achievements. Responding to that, O'Hara said: "Monty was in a different league to the rest of us, but it's a lot harder than people think to have a good result week-in, week-out."
"Personally," he added, "I don't think you can call us failures. To get on to the European Tour is an achievement in itself." @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org