McDowell leads by two after first round in Shanghai

Thu Nov 6, 2014 4:44am EST
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By Andrew Both

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell made a flying, seven birdie start to grab a two-shot lead after the first round of the $8.5 million WGC-HSBC Champions tournament on Thursday.

McDowell coped well with a fluctuating breeze and thick rough at Sheshan Golf Club to fire a five-under-par 67 after two late bogeys spoilt his card.

He headed a group of six players on 69 that included current U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer and consistent American Rickie Fowler.

World number two Adam Scott of Australia was a further shot back after a 70, but it was a miserable day for recent U.S. PGA Tour FedEx Cup winner Billy Horschel, who flung his ball into a water hazard in disgust at his final hole after shooting an error-strewn 80.

McDowell is not the longest of hitters and he prefers courses where birdies are hard to come by, so he was delighted when he arrived in Shanghai to find plenty of thick rough on a track that traditionally had yielded low scores.

"A big key to this course is driving the ball well (and) I drove it very well today," the world number 17, who finished third here last year, told reporters.

"I think I missed only one fairway (and that) set up a few opportunities. The greens are in fantastic shape and I actually putted very well, so seven under par through 12 holes was a beautiful start.

"I dropped a couple coming in but all in all, very, very pleased with five under on what I thought was a reasonably tricky day."   Continued...

Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland tees off on the ninth hole during the first round of the WGC-HSBC Champions golf tournament in Shanghai November 6, 2014. REUTERS/Aly Song