England's Baldwin leads China Open by a shot
Thursday, April 19, 2012
TIANJIN, China — Matthew Baldwin of England took advantage of calm early conditions to shoot a 7-under 65 Thursday and lead the China Open by one stroke after the first round.
Baldwin, who graduated from Europe's second-tier Challenge Tour last year, said he was also helped by the tee and flag placements.
"The conditions were a lot calmer when I played then when we played a practice round early in the week," he said. "Then, I thought shooting four 72s around this course would be very good. But they did move some of the tees forward and some of the pins were very generous, which helped the score."
Joost Luiten of the Netherlands, Gary Boyd of England, Scott Strange of Australia, Jean Baptiste Gonnet of France, Fredrik Andersson Hed of Sweden and Jbe Kruger of South Africa were at 66 in the European Tour event.
Of those, only Kruger played after lunchtime when a strong wind started to blow across the flat and exposed Binhai Lake course near Beijing.
Former European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie shot a 68 for his best round this year — and it would have been lower had he not three-putted on his last hole of the day.
"I have been working very hard on my game because you have to say that I had lost my game completely," Montgomerie said. "It feels better and it seems to be coming back."
Defending champion Nicolas Colsearts of Belgium and Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark were at 4 under.
There was no fairy tale start for Guan Tian-lang of China, who at 13 years, 173 days made history by becoming the youngest player at a European Tour event.
Playing when the wind was at its highest, Guan started with a bogey and was 5 over after six holes. However, he finished the last 12 holes in level par to shoot a 77.