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Ulster pair are on song

Mission Hills World Cup

By Peter Hutcheon

Published 22/11/2007

Ulster pair Michael Hoey and Gareth Maybin managed a more than respectable six under 66 in the opening round of the Mission Hills World Cup in China today.

That left Ireland in a tie for 17th out of the 28 nations, five shots behind first round leaders the United States.

With the big American stars like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson opting not to take part it was left to the relatively unknown pair of Boo Weekley and Heath Slocum to fly the Stars and Stripes but they came out with all guns blazing to forge a two-shot lead at 11 under over a seven strong group which included England and Wales.

Two eagles from Ian Poulter midway through the opening round of the Omega pushed England well up the leaderboard. Poulter and Justin Rose had combined to card three birdies through seven holes but the world number 20 shot an eagle on the ninth before adding another on the 11th to move them onto seven under after 11 holes.

The Finnish duo of Mikko Ilonen and Pasi Purhonen had enjoyed a fine start to the tournament on the Olazabal course as they completed their round with a nine-under 63.

Ilonen birdied the first before Purhonen added a birdie on the second and then hit an eagle on the third to send them up to the top of the embryonic leaderboard.

Colin Montgomerie and Marc Warren continued to enjoy a faultless opening round as they closed in on the top of the leaderboard.

The pair, who last year combined to secure a runners-up finish in Barbados, carded seven birdies to sit just two strokes off the lead.

Meanwhile Rory McIlroy is in a share of tenth place after the first round of the Mastercard Masters in Melbourne after an opening two under round of 70.

That leaves him just three shots off the lead held by Australian Robert Allenby who opened with a 67.

Belfast Telegraph

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