Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, won a "fastest serve" competition at Wednesday's pro-am dinner but without throwing his right arm out in the process.
Instead, he followed that 94 mph delivery with a 65 round on the Olazabal course which gave him a share of the first-round lead in the WGC-HSBC Champions with Adam Scott. Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Peter Hanson and Shane Lowry are a shot behind.
Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa tees off during the first day of the HSBC Champions golf tournament at Mission Hills in Dongguan. [Photo/Getty Images]
Oosthuizen, a talented tennis player in his youth, was enviably consistent over his 18 holes, notching a birdie at each of the five par fives and a couple more to boot. As for Scott, he had the fastest of finishes, two birdies and an eagle at the ninth, his 18th, where he hit close with a drive and a two-iron.
Scott, of course, is among that band of men worrying about the future of the long putter. Rumor has it that they could learn before the end of the season that the anchoring of putters on the body is to be banned. "What I'd like to know is what their criterion is for banning ‘anchoring putting' or whatever they like to call it," Scott said.
Nearly all of the leading players made the most of the signature hole, the 580-yard 15th.
"It's a hole where you can make an eagle or a birdie or a big number," was what Watson had prophesied before the off. Mickelson, though he pinned down his eagle at the 18th, said it was everything a good hole ought to be. "If you hit a good drive you can go for the green, but if you go for the green you have water right and left. It's just a very fair test which rewards good shots."
The sun was shining and the crowds were swelling all the time over a course where, away from the great play of the leaders, there was plenty to remind everyone that even the best of professionals can make their share of mistakes.
Hennie Otto, who had been among the early leaders when he dipped to four under par over his first six holes, amassed a seven at the 15th after hitting into the second swathe of water. However, just in front, Jbe Kruger had a nine.
Kruger, who plays on the Asian Tour, had been walking on air since last week where, he had a 64 to Tiger Woods's 67 as the two played together in Kuala Lumpur. Today's quadruple bogey would have brought him down to earth with a thump.
He had attempted to play from a grassy lakeside bank, only for his ball to splash into the depths in front of him. He then had to go back down the fairway to play his next, causing his group to lose 13 minutes.
Robert Rock, meantime, made an excellent fist of drawing attention to those HSBC advertising pyramids which soar from the water. The winner of the 2012 Abu Dhabi championship hit a shot which cannoned from the central pyramid into the water but he got off lightly. Namely, with a six.