AUSTRALIAN duo Richard Green and Brendan Jones carded a superb 61 to take a two-shot lead in the Golf World Cup, but Rory Mcilroy and Graeme McDowell are well poised in second.
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 said afterwards. “Brendan obviously started very well and built the momentum.
“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 faced.”
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.”
McDowell added: “We are both playing solid. Tomorrow is the most important format in this tournament. Tomorrow will separate the men from the boys a little bit and we are very happy the way we are playing.”
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.
“It was a great way to finish,” Gallacher said. “We were just saying coming down 14, 15, we had done well and nothing had really went for us but if we could have a strong
finish ... with Martin's chip-in at 16 and the bunker shot on the last, we've certainly done that.”
Laird added: “That's what it's going to be like in fourballs because it frees everyone up. You have a partner sitting in the middle of the green and you are taking dead aim on your second shot.
“There's always going to be birdies and it's fun to play like that. You don't often get to play team events so it's fun when you have got that.”
Holland and the United States are tied for fourth on eight-under par 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.
The Welsh pair of Rhys Davies and Jamie Donaldson were a shot further back after a 67.