Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Ireland in contention

Graeme McDowell (left) and Rory McIlroy

Australian duo Richard Green and Brendan Jones carded a superb 61 to take a two-shot lead over Ireland and Scotland after the first round of the World Cup in China.

Taking full advantage of the fourballs format, Green and Jones went to the turn in 32 at Mission Hills Resort on Hainan Island before storming home in 29 with two eagles and three birdies.

"We combined very well today," Green told reporters afterwards. "Brendan obviously started very well and built the momentum."

He continued: "It helped me progress with my game throughout the round and 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.

"In this game it's just a matter of positioning yourself and giving the other guy an opportunity if you are slightly out of position and allowing them to be a little bit more aggressive. We did that well all day and it didn't matter what hole we were faced with."

Ireland, represented by major winners Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, kept in touch after returning a 63 to lie nine under par.

"I thought it was a very solid opening day," said McIlroy, who was second with McDowell when the event was last played two years ago. "We sort of set a target around eight to 10 under par that we thought was going to be a good score out there and we managed to shoot something around that.

"It puts us in a great position going into the next three days. The fourballs this week are where you're going to make most of your birdies and the foursomes is a more demanding format where both players need to be on their games to shoot a low score. It was a good start but we know we still have got a tough job ahead of us."

Scotland's Martin Laird and Stephen Gallacher also produced a superb bogey-free effort with an eagle two at the 16th - when Laird chipped in - accompanying seven birdies.

Holland and the United States are tied for fourth on eight under, while the English pairing of Justin Rose and Ian Poulter had a run of four consecutive birdies on the back nine to thank for lifting them to six under.

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