Thursday, 24 November 2011

Australia Lead Omega World Cup

Australia took a two-shot lead after firing a superb 11-under 61 on the opening day at the Omega Mission Hills World Cup in China.

Richard Green and Brendon Jones combined for seven birdies and two eagles in perfect scoring conditions to lead the way ahead of Northern Ireland pair Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell and Scots Stephen Gallacher and Martin Laird.

Green and Jones started brightly enough with four birdies on the front nine but it was their back-nine effort that took them to the top as they picked up seven shots in six holes from the 12th.

"We combined very well. Brendan obviously started very well and built the momentum," said Green.

"This helped me progress with my game towards the back nine. I was able to contribute a little bit, and get the eagle on the par-four 16th. That really helped us at that stage."

The duo hope their performance will register back home.

"Golf in Australia at the moment is all about the Australian PGA Championship at Coolum and do they even know the World Cup is on here in China?" said Jones.

"It would be nice to get a line in the newspapers to say we are leading the World Cup and hopefully go two places better than finishing third three year back.

"We just got blown away that last day in 2008 with Sweden shooting nine under so if we get that opportunity again this week then we will learn from our mistakes."

US Open champion McIlroy wasn't at his very best but he holed a good par putt at the last as he and McDowell carded seven birdies and an eagle in their bogey-free nine-under 63.

McDowell said: "It would have been really disappointing not to have parred the last so it was good to see my partner knock that one in for a four.

"We gelled really well today and Rory's a pretty decent little partner, as well."

The Scots ensured a tie for second place after the opening fourballs thanks to Laird holing out from a bunker at their final hole.

The Netherlands and United States are a shot further back in tied fifth on eight-under.

England's high-profile pairing of Justin Rose and Ian Poulter are in touch after an opening 66 but they needed four straight birdies from the 13th to reach respectability.

Poulter tweeted later: "-6 today team England or you could say @JustinRose99 I didn't hole a thing today. Looking forward to Foursomes tomorrow."

The fancied South African duo of Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen were one of the disappointments of the day after only carding a four-under 68 but the two major winners feel they left plenty of shots out there after a poor day on the greens.

"I'm guessing in the foursomes, if we keep hitting the ball like we are, we can easily shoot seven-under-par," said Schwartzel. "We can go low in the foursomes. We're both hitting it well; we're both rolling the ball well - so if we can just find some lines, we can cause some damage."

Oosthuizen agreed. "We play almost every practice round together, and know each other's games, and we're pretty similar distance-wise and all those things, so we're looking forward to tomorrow."

First round leaderboard (after opening fourballs)

-11 Australia
-9 Scotland
-9 Ireland
-8 United States
-8 Netherlands
-7 Denmark
-7 Spain
-7 Colombia
-7 Germany