Patrick Reed was in glittering form in his first competitive round following the Ryder Cup, posting a superb eight-under-par 64 for the opening-round lead at the WGC-HSBC Champions.
The reigning Masters champ overcame gusting winds en route to an eight-birdie, bogey-free performance at the $10 million tournament in Shanghai.
The 28-year old let his game do the talking at par-72 Sheshan International Golf Course, rolling in lengthy putts for birdie on his second and third holes and sticking an approach one foot from the pin for another birdie two holes later to ignite the scoring spree.
“It was pumping out there,” Reed said of the swirling winds.
“It felt really good. To shoot a round like that in these kinds of conditions, you know you’re going to have confidence when the wind dies down.”
Fellow American Xander Schauffle and Reed’s Ryder Cup teammate Tony Finau finished tied for second, two strokes back at six-under, while last year’s winner Justin Rose was in a pack of golfers at 69.
Rory McIlroy endured a slow start to the competition as he suffered a double-bogey on the par-four 16th after being forced to attempt a left-handed shot to get out of the trees. He finished with a round of 72.
?️♂️ RORY PLAYS LEFT HANDED ?️♂️
Rory McIlroy had to get creative and play a shot with alternate hand after getting in to trouble during the opening round of the WGC-HSBC Champions.
— Sky Sports Golf (@SkySportsGolf) October 25, 2018
The field in Shanghai features 19 of the world’s top 30 golfers, but newly crowned number one Brooks Koepka couldn’t quite get the momentum going.
Koepka has been hot this year, winning the US Open — his second in a row — the PGA Championship and Player of the Year honours, and victory in the CJ Cup in South Korea last week made him number one for the first time.
But he was among the golfers unable to master the windy conditions, notching just one birdie and a bogey for an even-par 72.
Rose, who seized on a final-round collapse by 54-hole leader Dustin Johnson to win last year, looked sharp but was happy to escape with a 69 after he closed both the front and back nines with bogeys.
“Sixty-nine is about the worst score I could have had out there. I played really good golf. It was possibly an eight-under round with the chances that I had,” said the world number three.
Johnson, who was the planet’s top-ranked golfer until good buddy Koepka leapfrogged him just days ago, will have to battle back after sliding to a two-over 74.
The tournament, dubbed “Asia’s major”, annually gathers a premier crop of players and carries a winner’s purse of $1.8 million.
© Agence France-Presse (Additional edits by Marisa Kennedy)