Spain leads after windy 1st round of World Cup

By BRUCE MATTHEWS

Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia  — Spain’s Rafa Cabrera-Bello was the only player to give thanks to the stiff south-westerly wind that buffeted the field in the World Cup’s opening round on Thursday.

He threw back his head in a mix of relief and delight when a birdie attempt on the 18th green hovered on the right lip and then dropped into the cup to propel his team into the lead.

Cabrera-Bello and teammate Jon Rahm had a 3-under 69 to edge one stroke ahead of France, China and the U.S. after the foursomes competition at Kingston Heath.

“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. It looked like it was going to miss right and something up there …. the wind helped,” Cabrera-Bello said.

That was the only positive comment on the cold wind that troubled the 56 players with club selection on approach shots to the quickening greens.

The teams are hoping for calmer conditions for Friday’s fourball second round that is more tournament-familiar than the first round’s alternate shot format.