G-Mac sets hot pace at WGC-HSBC in China

First Round Updates — WGC-HSBC Champions — Sheshan International Golf Club – -Shanghai, China — 

Graeme McDowell fired an opening-round 5-under-67 to assume the overnight lead at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in China.

G-Mac, who posted 31 on his opening nine holes (the back nine at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai), takes a two-shot lead into Friday’s second round over a host of top-notch players including U.S. Open winner Martin Kaymer, former FedEx Cup champ Brandt Snedeker, Rickie Fowler and Tim Clark.

At T-8 and within striking distance at the 78-player field is Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Louis Oosthuizen, Jordan Spieth and Top 10 players Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson.

McDowell, who won the Alstom French Open back in July on the European Tour, was a 25-to-1 betting selection at heading into the week. At 17th in the Official World Golf Ranking, G-Mac was 3-0 in Ryder Cup play in September and finished first on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained Putting last season.

A victory here would be his biggest behind the U.S. Open title he won a few years ago.

Reigning FedEx Cup champion Billy Horschel struggled around the layout shooting 80 and recording just one birdie, while Graham DeLaet and Kevin Stadler withdrew from the final World Golf Championships event of the season.

Other Golf News:

  • Sebastian Cappelen, fresh off the Tour, leads the PGA Tour’s Sanderson Farms Championship after a first-round gem at the Country Club of Jackson in Mississippi. The 24-year-old shot 7-under-65 and leads by two at the moment. McGladrey Classic champion Robert Streb is 5-under and T-2.
  • Bubba Watson, the Masters champion in 2014, turned 36 years old this week. He is T-19 at 1-under in China at the WGC-HSBC Champions. Bubba, who is 7th in the world rankings, struggled in the Ryder Cup matches posting an 0-3 record.
  • The LPGA Tour visits Japan this week for the Mizuno Classic. The 54-hole event features Rolex Ranking No. 2 Stacy Lewis, who leads the tour’s Race to CME Globe standings, and Hall of Famer Karrie Webb.
  • George O’Grady, 65, is stepping down as Chief Executive on the European Tour after 40 years with the organization. He helped create the tour’s season-long Race To Dubai.
  • Cappelen, who logged a victory last season on the Tour, is 386th in the world rankings.