China’s Mission Hills Golf Resort hosts the Omega-sponsored World Cup and Ireland’s pairing of Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell came within one shot of equalling the record score in their first round.
The duo scored a combined total of 14-under par for a first round 58 to take a three shot lead on a day in which the pair scored 12 birdies and an eagle between them. McIlroy and McDowell combined together to shoot 29 on both the outward and inward halves of the resort’s Olazabal course.
The tournament, which follows an alternating fourball/foursomes format began with a four-ball which sees each team member play their own ball with the lowest score on each hole being counted. The Irish duo’s round of 58 falls one shot short of the record – 57 – which is held jointly by three teams. Ireland hasn’t won the World Cup since Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley were victorious in 1997.
McIlroy and McDowell have proven to be a formidable twosome when they play together. The pair were 3-1 as a team during Great Britain & Ireland’s Vivendi Trophy triumph and should they both make Colin Montgomerie’s team, would be likely to renew their partnership for the 2010 Ryder Cup Match at The Celtic Manor, Wales.
Argentinian pair Rafa Echenique and Tano Goya occupy second place following a joint 11-under par 61 and held the lead until overhauled by the Northern Ireland pair. Japan are in third place after Ryuji Imada and Hiroyuki Fujita carded a 10-under par total.
Defending champions Sweden – represented by Henrik Stenson and Robert Karlsson – share fourth place on eight-under par with Canada (Graham Delaer, Stuart Anderson); South Korea (Charlie Wi, Y.E Yang) and Italy, who are represented by the Molinari brothers Edoardo and Francesco.
American duo Nick Watney and John Merrick occupy a share of 15th place in the 28-team field. England – represented by Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher – finished on six-under par while Scotland (David Drysdale, Alastair Forsyth) and Spain (Sergio Garcia, Gonzalo Fernadez Castano) occupy the wooden spoon position along with Chile and Pakistan.
Leaderboard after Day One:
58: Ireland (Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy)
61: Argentina (Tano Goya, Rafa Echenique)
62: Japan (Hiroyuki Fujita, Ryuji Imada)
64: Canada (Graham Delaet, Stuart Anderson, Italy (Edoardo Molinari, Francesco Molinari), South Korea (Charlie Wi, Yang Young-Eun), Sweden (Robert Karlsson, Henrik Stenson)
65: China (Zhang Lianwei, Liang Wenchong), South Africa (Rory Sabbatini, Richard Sterne)
66: Denmark (Soren Kjeldsen, Soren Hansen), England (Ian Poulter, Ross Fisher), Germany (Alex Cejka, Martin Kaymer), Singapore (Lam Chih Bing, Mardan Mamat), Wales (Stephen Dodd, Jamie Donaldson)
67: Taiwan (Lin Wen-tang, Lu Wei-chih), France (Christian Cevaer, Thomas Levet), India (Jyoti Randhawa, Jeev Milkha Singh), New Zealand (Danny Lee, David Smail), Thailand (Prayad Marksaeng, Thongchai Jaidee), United States (Nick Watney, John Merrick), Venezuela (Alfredo Adrian, Jhonattan Vegas)
68: Australia (Stuart Appleby, Robert Allenby), Brazil (Rafael Barcellos, Ronaldo Francisco), Philippines (Marciano Pucay, Angelo Que)
69: Chile (Hugo Leon, Martin Ureta), Pakistan (Muhammad Munir, Muhammad Shabbir), Scotland (David Drysdale, Alastair Forsyth), Spain (Gonzalo Fernandez Castano, Sergio Garcia)