Sport Golf

Wednesday 22 November 2017

McGrane on top as Westwood slips

Damien McGrane is leading the Ballantine's Championship in South Korea. Photo: Getty Images
Damien McGrane is leading the Ballantine's Championship in South Korea. Photo: Getty Images

Ireland's Damien McGrane holds a one-stroke lead in the Ballantine's Championship in South Korea.

Lee Westwood, who returned to the top of the world rankings following his victory at the Indonesian Masters last week, double-bogeyed the final hole of his first round to end day one six shots behind McGrane.

Westwood carded a 72, well behind McGrane who had eight birdies in his 66.

Forty-year-old McGrane, the winner of the China Open in 2008, holds a one-shot lead over Chile's Felipe Aguilar, England's Richard Finch and home favourite Park Sang-hyun.

"I made plenty of birdies and I putted nicely," McGrane said.

"I holed everything inside 15 feet. I made two bogeys which were out of nowhere really but that's golf I suppose.

"The fairways are generous and, just like last week, you make birdies on day one and keep going till the end of the tournament.

"That's what I started off doing, so hopefully I'll do it at end of the tournament."

Finch enjoyed five birdies in a bogey-free round and was pleased with his progress.

He told "Today I feel like I got up out of the right side of the bed and a few things went my way.

"When I hit putts too hard, and I'm thinking, please hit the hole, it hit the hole and disappeared. That's a two-shot swing basically.

"You do need that little bit of luck and for things to go your way. Hopefully I still have a bit left in the tank but certainly took advantage today."

Aguilar had four birdies in an outward 32 and one more on the way home.

"You never know until the fat lady sings," he said. "It's just the beginning of the round - you can lose the tournament today, you can't win it.

"We are just getting ourselves in position to be in contention. I came off to a pretty hot start.

"I made a couple of long putts that really helped, and I could really feel the tension, especially coming into the last couple of holes, but really happy with the round."

Scotland's Richie Ramsay is in fifth place alongside Chinnarat Phadungsil of Thailand while Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez is in a share of 11th.

Ernie Els shot a one-over 73 in his opening round, a shot better than Ian Poulter, who had two double-bogeys in his 74.

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