South African journeyman Hennie Otto blasted a stunning nine-under-par 63 to lead the Volvo China Open after the first round yesterday. Starting in the very first group on the 10th tee at the Topwin Golf and Country Club in Beijing, the world number 392 was only three under halfway through his round.
But he shot two birdies in his first three holes on the front nine and an eagle at the eighth saw him back in just 30 strokes. Otto will be 40 in June and turned professional in 1998 but had to wait a decade for the first of only three European tour wins, the 2008 Italian Open.
“I played really well today,” he said in comments posted on the organisers’ website. “You have to hit it in the right places and that’s the thing I did today. I’ve always got a good frame of mind every week but it’s just my putting let me down and today it came through.”
Otto was two strokes ahead of Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger, who won the French Open last year, with four players tied one shot further back: Finland’s Roope Kakko, Paraguayan Fabrizio Zanotti, Peter Hanson of Sweden and Frenchman Gregory Bourdy.
Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg had a hole-in-one with a seven iron at the 201-yard 16th, winning a Volvo XC90 car for his effort. “The factory is 30 minutes from where I live so it’s pretty cool,” he said. “I’ve won a Swedish car in China.”
First round scores
63 - Hennie Otto (RSA)
65 - Bernd Wiesberger (AUT)
66 - Roope Kakko (FIN), Fabrizio Zanotti (PAR), Peter Hanson (SWE), Gregory Bourdy (FRA)
67 - Borja Virto Astudillo (ESP), Alex Noren (SWE), Joost Luiten (NED)
68 - Joakim Lagergren (SWE), Dean Burmester (RSA), Marcel Siem (GER), Nathan Holman (AUS), Wolmer Murillo (VEN), Mikko Korhonen (FIN), Jeff Winther (DEN), Richie Ramsay (SCO), Yuan Tian (CHN), Tyrrell Hatton (ENG), Felipe Aguilar (CHI), Lucas Bjerregaard (DEN)
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