Golf: Bjorn's return to form too late

THOMAS BJORN and Darren Clarke both had reasons to moan despite their contrasting fortunes on the second day of the European Masters.

Bjorn, who became the first Dane to play in the Ryder Cup two years ago, took an early clubhouse lead and then said: "It's all over now. I can perhaps get my life back together. I'd been trying too hard to get back on the Ryder Cup team but I've learned it's not the way to go about it. You have to focus on just playing well and then things fall into place the way you want them.

"I wanted to be there so badly. It's the best competition in the world and, take away the majors, it's what golf's all about. In fact, it's more important than majors because it's how we do in the Ryder Cup that decides if the European Tour flourishes."

Bjorn admitted he lost his chance because of his setback at the US PGA Championship. "I was hoping for a good week at the PGA and then to play well in the BMW International so that I at least made the top 15 in the table. I'd heard Mark James say that he might favour younger players and so I hoped I might have a chance for a wild-card. But I gave up after the US PGA. It hurts seeing players who you feel you can play better than go past you."

Bjorn shot a five-under-par 66 for a midway four-under total of 138, while Clarke, already in the Ryder Cup team, see-sawed his way to a 70 with six birdies and five bogeys.

The 31-year-old Ulsterman could barely contain his anger and blamed the "cunningness" of the putting surfaces, controversially re-designed by Seve Ballesteros in the past year. "I should be clear," Clarke said. "I kept missing the greens and kept missing the putts. It was just miss, miss, miss."

Scores, Digest, page 25