Fri, November 28, 2008
Sports > Tennis & Golf

Asians endure a slow start in Mission Hills

2008-11-28 01:59:05 GMT2008-11-28 09:59:05 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Brandt Snedeker of the United States competes on the first day of the Omega World Cup in Shenzhen yesterday. The 5.5-million-U.S.-dollar event runs until Sunday. (Photo: China Daily/AFP)

BEIJING, Nov. 28 -- Asia's challenge at the World Cup of Golf endured a frustrating start with swirling winds blowing them off course in the first round yesterday.

Japan's Ryuji Imada and Toru Taniguchi emerged as the leading nation from the region after a 6-under-par 66 in the opening fourball session left them four shots behind pacesetter Germany at Mission Hills Golf Club in Dongguan in Guangdong Province.

Indian duo Jyoti Randhawa and Jeev Milkha Singh, who has secured the Asian Tour's Order of Merit title this season, combined for a 67 to lie in tied 12th place alongside the Philippines, represented by Angelo Que and Mars Pucay.

Chinese Taipei's Lin Wen-tang, winner of last week's Hong Kong Open, and veteran Lu Wen-teh carded a 68 which was matched by South Korea's Bae Sang-moon and Kim Kyung-tae while China's Liang Wenchong and Zhang Lianwei both found water on the last hole for a double bogey and signed for a disappointing 69.

"It was tough to swallow. I think we could have done better than that. We'll take it as we're not badly placed," said Singh, winner of three tournaments in Asia, Japan and Europe this year.

Randhawa, Asia's No. 1 in 2002, got the Indians going with a birdie on the third hole but with gusty winds throwing teams off balance, they had to wait until the ninth for their second birdie of the round in the better ball format.

Singh knocked in his first of the day on nine and went on to shoot two other birdies in quick succession before Randhawa wrapped up the day with his second birdie of the day on 15.

"We didn't combine as well as we could have. Five under is not a great score but being bogey free was good," said Randhawa. "We made birdies on the same holes. If we made birdies on different holes, that would have been great. We got over aggressive today. We tried to chip in and tried to make putts from 30 foot which you can't do."

Zhang and Liang made costly mistakes on the last hole. Zhang, a five-time winner on the Asian Tour, drove into the water on what is rated as the toughest hole at Mission Hills which boasts a world-record 12 courses while Liang sent his approach into the drink as well.

"It was an unbelievable mistake by the both of us. There are three days to go. We're not too worried. I'm confident we can come back in the foursomes tomorrow. We should be able to improve on our score. But to see Germany finish on 10 under in the wind is amazing. It's a nice score," said Zhang.

Martin Kaymer and Alex Cejka combined for a 10-under 62, giving Germany a one-stroke lead over Australia's Richard Green and Brendan Jones.

Three teams - Spain, Canada and the United States - were two shots behind. Four others were only three back - Sweden, Ireland, Denmark and New Zealand - in the team event with an unusual format.

Kaymer birdied the first three holes, Cejka added one at the fourth - and then Kaymer put Germany at 6-under at No. 7, when he dropped a 75-foot eagle putt.

"That eagle putt was one of the longest putts I've ever made," Kaymer said. "It was over a huge ridge."

Added Cjeka: "That was a nice bonus."

For Cejka, this tournament could be a season-ending perk. He underwent neck surgery following the British Open to correct a pinched nerve, and this is his first serious competition since then. Cejka described his game as only about 80 percent and expects to be in rehabilitation through January. "The second half of the year was basically nothing for me. I was sitting on the couch."

Defending champion Scotland, a team comprising Colin Montgomerie and Alastair Forsyth, shot a 4-under 68, six strokes off the lead.

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