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Hot putter helps Campillo

By China Daily | China Daily | Updated: 2019-05-04 08:23

Five birdies, eagle lift Spaniard to a share of Open lead

China's Wu Ashun hits his drive on the 18th hole during Thursday's first round of the Volvo China Open at Genzon Golf Club in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. Wu's 6-under 66 tied for a share of fourth heading into the second round. VOVLO CHINA OPEN/FOR CHINA DAILY

Jorge Campillo continued his impressive run of form by grabbing a share of the early lead at the 25th Volvo China Open, thanks to an opening round 7-under 65 at Genzon Golf Club in Shenzhen on Thursday.

The Spaniard, who last week won his first European Tour title in Morocco, fired five birdies and an eagle to join American David Lipsky and Finland's Tapio Pulkannen at the top of the leaderboard.

"I hit fairways and greens and I made a few putts as well, so it was a good round," said Campillo, who fashioned a masterful front nine of 30 before driving rain drenched the last few holes.

"The eagle on nine was the highlight. I made great putts on seven and eight, then hit a great hybrid on nine. If I can keep playing like this and making the putts, I'll hopefully have a chance on the weekend.

"The tee shot on 18 is one of the hardest on the course, and it was raining really hard. The last few holes were a little challenging."

Two-time European Tour winner Lipsky got off to a quick start with eight birdies and just one bogey, while Pulkkanen rolled in seven birdies to grab a share of the lead in the 20 million yuan ($2.9 million) tournament.

"I played well and I got my putter working. I hit it alright, not great, but I think I holed 150 feet of putts, so that always helps," said Lipsky, who managed a top-10 finish at the same event in 2016.

"I was trying to be aggressive, but it didn't really work out. I was just trying to put the ball 15-20 feet from the hole and, luckily, I kept making the putts. The greens are pure ... it's pick and place so you have an almost perfect lie every time.

"The ball isn't going quite as far this week because the air's a little bit heavy ... but you adjust."

Pulkkanen, who won the 2017 Challenge Tour, was delighted with his performance coming on the heels of a top 10 finish in Morocco last week.

"It was a great round," said the Finn. "I started with only two birdies on the front nine, but getting five on the back was great. It's a quick recovery from Morocco, but I had a good flight and I feel good physically, so it's nice to be up there.

"I think I played my best score today. I was the best player in the field on the par fives last week, and so far that's continued. That's important on this course because I feel like I can use my length here."

Three other players were within a shot of the lead after the opening round, with 2015 Volvo China Open champion Wu Ashun and compatriot Jin Daxing delighting the home fans with opening rounds of 66 (-6) to tie for a share of fourth with American John Catlin.

"I hit a lot of quality shots and made a lot of birdies, so it was a good start," said Wu.

"It was challenging for everyone when the rain started to fall; it's not easy on this course in those conditions. When it's wet you lose distance with the driver so it's tough for everyone."

Sweden's Alexander Bjork produced a quiet start to his title defense, opening with a 2-under 70, a score matched by two-time winner Alex Levy of France, while Austria's Bernd Wiesberger - a winner last time out on the Genzon course - opened with a 69 (-3).

Local favorite and 2016 winner Li Haotong birdied his last hole of the day to join an eight-way tie for seventh place.

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