First Round — World Golf Championships — HSBC Champions — Sheshan International Golf Club — Shanghai, China —
South Africa’s Branden Grace blasted Sheshan International Golf Club Thursday in the opening round of the World Golf Championships – HSBC Champions in China.
Grace posted a bogey-free 9-under-63 to grab the first-round lead. He sits a shot ahead of Stephen Bowditch,Kevin Kisner and Thorbjorn Olesen.
Dustin Johnson — the 2013 HSBC champ — is T-4 alongside Patrick Reed and Danny Willett at 7-under and two back. Willett continues to be in the mix for the Race To Dubai. This is the second event in The Final Series — a four-tournament finale to decide the cup champion on the European Tour.
Rory McIlroy, who leads the Race to Dubai standings, managed a 4-under-68 after contending with food poisoning earlier in the week. McIlroy is part of a large group of high-profile players at T-17 through 18 holes including Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia and defending champion Bubba Watson.
Spieth can finish T-14 or better this week and regain the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking.
While Rory opened as the betting favorite at 5 1/2-to-1 odds at Golfodds.com, Grace was listed at 30-1. The South African, who rides a wave of momentum after his play at the Presidents Cup, won twice earlier in the European Tour calendar.
Other Golf News:
- The Champions Tour’s season-finale tees off Thursday at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship near Phoenix. Colin Montgomerie has a slim lead ahead of Jeff Maggert and two-time cup champion Bernhard Langer. No player has won three cups in the tour’s history.
- The LPGA Tour hosts the TOTO Japan Classic this week featuring Stacy Lewis, who has yet to win in 2015.
- Kyle Stanley and three others are tied early in round one at the PGA Tour’s Sanderson Farm Championships. The tournament and PGA Tour signed a new deal to extend the event for another decade.
- Phil Mickelson and coach Butch Harmon have split ties. Mickelson and Harmon worked together beginning in 2007 and won 12 PGA Tour titles including two majors.
- Inbee Park (finger) has been cleared to return to action next week at the LPGA Tour’s stop in Mexico for the Lorena Ochoa Invitational.