| 9.7°C Dublin

Irish pair a major concern to Aussies

IRISH major winners Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell lie just two shots behind Australia following the first round of the Golf World Cup.

With the first day featuring a fourball format, Aussies Richard Green and Brendon Jones took full advantage to card an 11-under 61 at Mission Hills Resort on Hainan Island in China.

McIlroy and McDowell, the pre-tournament favourites, were five-under through nine holes after an eagle and added a further four birdies on the back nine to card a nine-under 63.

The Irish pair are joined on nine-under by the Scots, Martin Laird and Stephen Gallacher, who eagled the 16th and birdied the notoriously difficult 18th to tie for second place.

McDowell said he couldn't be more pleased with the partnership that makes up team Ireland.

"I guess you could say I've got myself a decent partner. He's in great form and the world number two," he said.

"You have to be able to motivate and inspire each other and enjoy the experience of being in contention and under pressure, and hopefully enjoy the experience of winning together.


"There's nothing quite like that team atmosphere in golf. It's a very individual sport and very few times do we get the opportunity to play as a team.

"Winning individually is nice, but winning as a team is something extra special. Hopefully we can use our experiences of the last couple of years to good effect."

McIlroy, playing in China for the fourth time in under two months, gives McDowell some of the credit for his superstar status.

"Watching everything Graeme did last year definitely did something to me mentally," the 22-year-old said. "It gave me that little bit of extra belief, seeing someone that you're so close to produce that type of golf.

"It's been a great couple of years to get my first win in the States and then back that up with my first major. There have been very low lows and very high highs.

"We came very close a couple of years ago and it would be great to get ourselves into the position again with a chance to win."

The Netherlands and US are tied for fourth on eight under and lie one shot clear of Colombia, Denmark, Germany and Spain.

English duo Justin Rose and Ian Poulter carded seven birdies and a solitary bogey to join a number of countries in 10th place on six under.