Atwal tied 52nd, Molinari leads in WGC-HSBC

Thursday, November 4, 2010

SHANGHAI - Arjun Atwal started with a flourish as he birdied his first two holes but then failed to find any more in the first round of the star-studded WGC-HSBC Champions golf Thursday. The Indian ace, who became the first Indian to win on the PGA Tour recently, instead, gave away three bogeys and finished the day at one-over 73 in tied 52nd position.

Italys Francesco Molinari posted a seven-under-par 65 to take the opening round lead at the WGC-HSBC Champions Thursday.

Englands Lee Westwood also showed why he is deserving of being the best player in the world by returning with a 66 to take second place despite still nursing an injury while Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Noh Seung-yul of Korea stamped his mark with a 67 to take a share of third place alongside Japans Yuta Ikeda and Swedens Henrik Stenson.

World number two Tiger Woods was bunched in sixth place with Spains Martin Pablo and Englands Luke Donald after the trio returned with matching 68s at the Sheshan International Golf Club.

Atwal, a close friend of Tiger Woods, birdied the first two holes and indicated he was in for bigger things. But then the birdies dried up. He bogeyed the seventh but still turned in one-under. On the way back, he dropped shots on 12th and 17th and finished at one-over 73.

Molinari who tasted victory in China when he won the World Cup with his younger brother last year, has set himself up for another win at the Sheshan International Golf Club this week.

Whenever I come over here, I always play on great courses. I played here twice before and it is just the golf course that I like. I think that is what it is, said Molinari.

The Italian led the way with a bogey-free round that was highlighted by seven birdies including a memorable chip for birdie on the par-four third.

I holed that chip on the third hole after missing it long with my second shot. It was a tricky, downhill chip, so it was a very good shot, said Molinari.

Westwood who teed off alongside defending champion Phil Mickelson and Asian Tour Honorary member Y.E Yang posted birdies on holes 13th, 15th and 16th.

He almost moved to four-under at the par-five 18th but an eight-footer lipped out and he reached the turn in 33.

Westwood resumed his charge after the turn by marking his card with another birdie on the first hole.

The Englishmans only blemish of the day came at the par-four seventh but he bounced back and finished his round strongly with two consecutive birdies.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson of the United States meanwhile posted a 69 to take a share of ninth place.

Billed as the champions of champions title, the WGC-HSBC Champions sees tournament winners from all around the world representing 20 countries, who have won over 500 international titles between them and 30 Major Championships.

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