Thanks to a dominating 7-under on his first 12 holes, Graeme McDowell raced to a 2-stroke lead with a 5-under 67 at the WGC-HSBC Champions Thursday in Shanghai.
Starting on the back nine, McDowell birdied 10, 13, 14, 16 and 17, and added birdies on 2 and 3 as well before cooling off.
“Seven under par through 12 holes was a beautiful start, and although I dropped a couple coming in, all in all I’m very, very pleased with five under par on what I thought was a reasonably tricky day,” McDowell said.
Ranked 16th in the Race to Dubai rankings entering the tournament, McDowell could climb as high as second with a win here.
There are five players tied for second at 3-under, including US Open champion Martin Kaymer and Americans Brandt Snedeker, Chris Kirk and Rickie Fowler.
Twenty-seven players of the 80-man field finished under par in the blustery conditions. Tied for 8th at 2-under is a 10-man glut including Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, and Jordan Spieth.
Kevin Stadler retired due to an injury, and Graham Delaet did likewise after a brutal front nine that featured three bogeys, two double-bogeys and one triple-bogey.