Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Sports

Co-leaders surge on par 5 power

SHENZHEN, China — The longer the holes at the Mission Hills course, the better Louis Oosthuizen and Adam Scott seemed to play.

Oosthuizen and Scott shot 7-under 65 to share a one-shot lead after the opening round of the HSBC Champions on Thursday, in large part due to their play on the five par 5s on the course designed by Jose Maria Olazabal.

Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open winner, made birdie on all five. Scott had four birdies and an eagle.

Two-time HSBC Champions winner Phil Mickelson was one shot back, along with 2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson, Peter Hanson and Shane Lowry.

Scott finished by sinking two consecutive birdies before making eagle on the 573-yard ninth.

"It was a solid day that all of a sudden turned into a really good day," he said. "With five par 5s, it kind of sets up well for my game, and the plan is to just take advantage of the 5s and hopefully hang in there with the leaders all week."

Oosthuizen also said the key to his game was hitting solidly off the tee on the par 5s.

Mickelson was further off the pace before sinking a 25-foot putt for eagle on his final hole. "I was hoping just to make birdie on the last hole," he said. "I think the reason I was so calm (Thursday) was I drove the ball extremely well and hit every fairway."

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy aren't competing in the World Golf Championships event. The world's top two players were criticized for that this week by HSBC sponsorship chief Giles Morgan.

Woods, who played an 18-hole exhibition with McIlroy on Monday in China, said he was too tired to prepare. He will have played 24 tournaments this year, his most since 2005, a total that includes the Ryder Cup. Speaking at a youth clinic in Singapore, he confirmed his first tournament of 2013 will be the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on Jan. 17-20.

McIlroy will finish his season in Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai over the next three weeks as he tries to match Luke Donald's 2011 feat of winning money titles on the PGA Tour and European Tour in the same season.

champions: Defending champion Jay Don Blake birdied three of the final four holes for 6-under 64 and the first-round lead in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship at Scottsdale, Ariz. He had a one-stroke lead over Gary Hallberg. Schwab Cup points leader Bernhard Langer birdied the final two holes for 69. Langer has a 211-point lead over Tom Lehman (68) and 657-point advantage over Roger Chapman (69) in the race for the $1 million annuity that goes to the winner.

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