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British Open 2011: Who Exactly Is Thomas Bjorn?

In the early going at Royal St. George’s, a new name has risen to take the early lead and has looked sharp throughout his entire first round of the 2011 British Open. His name is Thomas Bjorn. Currently Bjorn sits at 5-under and leads all competitors, although the first day is still far from over. It will be a tough score to beat, however, for those seeing Bjorn’s name on the leaderboard.

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Bjorn bogied the final holes on each long stretch, losing one stroke on No. 9 and No. 18. However, he also had seven overall birdies, three on the front nine and four on the back. It was a beautiful consistency throughout the day for Bjorn who seemed collected despite the pressure of playing in such a major tournament and realizing you’re becoming the topic of conversation.

So just who is Thomas Bjorn? Where did he come from? The 40-year-old is from Denmark and has been a pro since 1993. He played his first PGA Tour event in ‘96, and he’s currently ranked No. 187 in the world. Thus far in 2011, he’s earned $168,000, and is far more well-known on the European tour, with 11 career wins to his name.

For American golf fans with decent memories, you might even recognize Bjorn’s name from major championships. He finished second at the PGA Championship in 2005 and second at the British Open in 2000 and 2003. He’s also finished at No. 18 in the Masters tournament back in 2002. Clearly his stock is higher in Europe, which might explain why many American broadcasters and sportswriters are wondering who exactly leads the tournament so far.

One quick look at his background, however, and you realize that Bjorn has the experience to take this tournament all the way. He’s a seasoned pro who’s been here before, and that’s the kind of name that can sneak in unexpectedly and take the trophy.