SIXTEEN years after his unbeaten part in sending Tiger Woods to Walker Cup defeat, England’s Mark Foster is hoping to seal a return to team golf in real style this weekend.
The 36-year-old from Worksop - a town best known in the sport as Lee Westwood’s home - took the first day lead in the fog-delayed Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles with a six-under-par 66.
Although his only European Tour victory remains eight years ago, Foster’s season is shaping up to be easily his best yet.
He is on course to earn a place in Britain and Ireland’s Seve Trophy side for the first time and says of next month’s match against Continental Europe in Paris: “I’ve been trying hard all year to make it and if it comes around it will be a massive thing for me.”
Not even a problem with wasps and bees could prevent Foster from making a flying start and establishing a one-stroke advantage over Spaniard Ignacio Garrido and Argentina’s Tano Goya.
While Ryder Cupper Ross Fisher crashed to five over as he was affected by them - he then hit back to finish with a 71 - his fellow Englishman carried on regardless and turned in an outstanding 30, no fewer than 10 shots better off than Fisher.
“I remember having to make a birdie putt with a wasp on the ball,” he said.
“It’s going to come off when you hit it and I just felt in a good place, so I hit the putt.”
The former English amateur champion, who was back playing with his Walker Cup partner David Howell, had two more birdies on the front nine, but there were two bogeys as well and that kept his lead over Garrido down to a single stroke.
Foster’s round came after he warmed up no fewer than three times because of the morning fog.
“I wanted to get loose and be ready to go, so it was a good sacrifice to do it,” he explained.
Foster had chances to win both the BMW International and French Open this summer, but after leading with a round to go both times had to be content with finishing third one week and then joint runner-up the next.