Jacquelin, Huang lead China Open

France's Raphael Jacquelin and Huang Mingjie of China shot rounds of three-under-par 68 on Thursday and share the first day lead at the China Open.

updated: April 15, 2007 11:36 IST
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France's Raphael Jacquelin and Huang Mingjie of China overcame strong winds to shoot rounds of three-under-par 68 on Thursday and share the first day lead at the China Open.

Jacquelin, second at last month's Estoril Open de Portugal, racked up four birdies before bogeying the 14th and 17th holes to fall out of the lead. Another birdie on 18 saw him catch a surging Huang.

"I said to my caddie as we set out, 'anything under par will be good so just try and par every hole,'" said Jacquelin. "We knew we would have to chip and putt all day long."

Huang got a dismal start, bogeying the first three holes before recovering to collect seven birdies, including a run of four from holes eight to 11.

"I did not adjust enough and the ball was not placed where I wanted it to be. I tried to play safe hoping to get even or one over to finish the game," said Huang, who finds himself leading a round for the first time ever in a tournament.

American Gary Rusnak was one stroke back after double-bogeying the fifth hole before snapping back with five birdies. Ryder Cup star Thomas Bjorn of Denmark sat amid a group of 11 players in joint-fourth at 70.

"It was a grind from start to finish," said Bjorn, who failed to make the cut at last weekend's Masters.

British Open champion Peter Lawrie of Ireland shot a one-over 72, while past winner Stephen Dodd of Wales had a 74 at the tournament, co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours.

Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, runner up to last year's winner Jeev Milkha Singh, was at even par after finishing with a 71 on the Shanghai Silport Golf Club's 6,468-meter course.

Despite the wind, no less than six players eagled the par-five 18th hole. England's Scott Drummond was up and down all day, carding three eagles against a double bogey, triple bogey, and a disastrous 10 on the par-four 13th hole.

Singh is not defending his title, having elected to stay in the United States following his debut at the Masters.

Golfers from no less than 40 nations are competing at this year's China Open, which carries a purse of $2 million, including $333,390 for the winner.

Sponsor Volvo plans to move the tournament to Beijing next year to coincide with the Chinese capital's staging of the 2008 Olympic Games.