SHANGHAI, China (AP) — France’s Raphael Jacquelin and Huang Mingjie of China overcame strong winds to shoot opening rounds of 3-under 68 Thursday, sharing a one-stroke lead after the first round of the China Open.
Jacquelin, second at last month’s Estoril Open de Portugal, racked up four birdies before bogeying the 14th and 17th holes to fall out of the lead. Another birdie on 18 saw him catch a surging Huang.
“I said to my caddie as we set out, ‘anything under par will be good so just try and par every hole,'” Jacquelin said. “We knew we would have to chip and putt all day long.”
Huang bogeyed the first three holes before recovering to collect seven birdies, including a run of four from holes eight to 11.
“I did not adjust enough and the ball was not placed where I wanted it to be,” said Huang, who finds himself leading a round for the first time ever in a tournament. “I tried to play safe hoping to get even or one over to finish the game.”
American Gary Rusnak was one stroke back after double-bogeying the fifth hole before snapping back with five birdies.
Despite the wind, no less than six players eagled the par-five 18th hole. England’s Scott Drummond was up and down all day, carding three eagles against a double bogey, triple bogey, and a disastrous 10 on the par-four 13th hole.
Singh is not defending his title, having elected to stay in the United States following his debut at the Masters.
Golfers from no less than 40 nations are competing at this year’s China Open, which carries a purse of $2 million, including $333,390 for the winner.
Sponsor Volvo plans to move the tournament to Beijing next year to coincide with the Chinese capital’s staging of the 2008 Olympic Games.