Dutchman Robert- Jan Derksen leads the Volvo China Open after the first round at Binhai Lake Golf Course in China.
Robert-Jan Derksen / Getty Images
Robert-Jan, a two-time European Tour winner, has not had a top-ten finish on tour for over two years, but he has suddenly found some good form here in China. In his first round he carded eight birdies, and two bogeys for a -6 under par, 66, and top the leaderboard, he said it had been a funny day, but was hoping for a good week;
” It was a funny day, because I started well with a birdie from about five feet, but then three-putted the third and fourth and ended up in three divots on the fairways later in the round. I made a lot of birdies, and I’ve ended the day in a really good position. The wind was difficult to judge, even on the greens. But I started making a few putts and my confidence lifted. I played well here last year, and decided to skip Korea last week to better prepare for this tournament, because the travelling can take it out of you. So it looks like a good decision. It’s only the first day, I know, but I haven’t led a tournament for quite a while, so if I can keep rolling in the putts, hopefully we could be in for a good week.”
Close behind Robert-Jan, tied in second place at -4 under par are three of the European Tour’s last five winners. Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Frenchman Raphaël Jacquelin and last week’s Ballantine’s Champion Australian Brett Rumford all carding matching rounds of 68.
Brett had a bogey free round, but said he was short on sleep;
“I didn’t get much sleep on Sunday night and then I took Monday and Tuesday to recover, Wednesday I just played the pro-am, so that was my practice for the week to give myself a chance to recover and get the body right. Mentally I feel nice and fresh, and obviously it was a bit of a mental grind out there with the wind. You had to be really patient, so it was a good test for the first round back after my victory last week. It’s just a matter of keep doing what you’re doing.”
Kiradech, won his maiden European Tour title at the Maybank Malaysian Open in March said he was full of confidence following last weeks effort at the Ballantines;
“I still have a lot of confidence from how I played last week, and obviously from Malaysia. I have played well for three or four weeks in a row now, and will try to finish high up the leaderboard again this week. In this type of wind you don’t know how you will do, but I’ll just try to do my best.”
Raphaël, who won last month’s Open de España was very happy with his start to this tournament;
It’s a great start, any time you have no bogeys and four birdies, it’s always a good day,” said the Frenchman.
“The wind’s picking up now, so we were lucky to play seven or eight holes without much wind. The course gives you a few birdie chances, but there were some holes, like the fourth, ninth and 17th, which were playing really long into the wind. I’m playing really well at the moment. Obviously my win in Spain was amazing, and I guess it was always going to be hard to keep the same high level in Korea last week.”
China’s newest young player, 12-year-old Ye Wo-cheng struggle on his debut on the European Tour, carding a first round of +7 over par 79. Sixteen year-old Dou Ze-cheng , finished his day by signing for an impressive round of -2 under par 70.