Germany's Martin Kaymer and Alex Cejka stormed into the lead of the Omega Mission Hills World Cup after a blistering ten under par in the fourball first round took them stroke one clear of Australia.
The pair, who finished sixth last year, got off to a flying start on the Olazábal Course at Mission Hills with four birdies on the first four holes and when Kaymer eagled the seventh they were in front. More birdies followed, with three in succession from the ninth; another on the 15th gave them a better ball score of 62.
Australia came home in just 30 strokes as Richard Green and Brendan Jones enjoyed an opening round of 63 while Canada , Spain and the United States were gathered at eight under par. Tournament favourites Sweden are in the group at seven under but the defending champions and host nation struggled to find top gear on the opening day.
Colin Montgomerie and Alastair Forsyth couldn't buy a putt as Scotland finished on four under par while China came unstuck on 18th when Liang Wen-chong and Zhang Lian-wei double bogeyed the hole after both players found the water.
Instead the day belonged to Germany . Kaymer has won twice on The European Tour this year as he has established himself as one of the world's top young players while Cejka is back playing again in his first full event following surgery to repair a trapped nerve in the summer. Of the two players, Kaymer in particular played beautifully as he contributed six birdies and an eagle to the German cause.
"Martin played really solid golf today," said Cejka. "He made a lot of birdies, an eagle, and I just tried to contribute a couple of times. We have three more rounds to go and we are delighted to be here. We are leading, and I think it's a great start for Germany ."
Kaymer was quick to point out it was a team effort and having fun is the key, commenting: "You want to perform well and you want to play well, but this is a team event, and I think we should just enjoy this week. This is the last tournament for most of the players in the year, and we should just enjoy this week and have fun. Of course, we want to play well, and we will try our best this week. And it's always nice if you can play for your country."
The Australian pair of Green and Jones are also delighted to be representing their country this week. It could have been a tough decision to come and play in China with the Sportsbet Australian Masters taking place in Green's home city of Melbourne , but despite the obvious pull of a home event he won in 2004, he was not going to pass up the opportunity of playing in the Omega Mission Hills World Cup.
Green said: "To play for Australia is a huge honour; both Brendan and I feel that way. Both myself and Brendan have focused on the World Cup and winning for Australia , and doing as good a job as we can."
Jones backed up his partner’s passion for playing under the Australian flag when he said: "I represented Australia at the amateur level, but when there's two professionals that get a chance once a year to represent their country, I just think it's one of the greatest honours.
"As Richard said, we both really want to be here and we both really want to do well. So we're a quarter of the way there, and I'm sure if we would hold the World Cup at the end of the week, I'm sure that there would be a few people playing the Australian Masters who wish they were in our shoes."
Pablo Larrazabal, the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year on The European Tour, is clearly enjoying his role as the junior partner alongside the vastly experienced Ryder Cup player, Miguel Angel Jiménez, and the pair combined well with an opening round of eight under par 64.
"We played very well, we complemented each other very well and it's nice, two shots behind the lead," said Jimenez. "The leaders will feel the breath on their necks."
Larrazabal was all smiles at the end. He said: "It's a lot of fun to play with him. We enjoyed it all day out there. If we keep on doing the same, trying to have fun out there, well, let's see what happens."
There's plenty of rivalry between the United States and Canada but the Canadian underdogs held their own against their neighbours and, like the Americans, shot eight under par for a share of third place.
The 28 teams will play the second round as foursomes and the alternate shot format is sure to present a fresh challenge on day two of the Omega Mission Hills World Cup.
First round scores (fourball) (Par 72)
62: Germany (Martin Kaymer, Alex Cejka)
63: Australia (Richard Green, Brendan Jones)
64: Canada (Graham Delaet, Wes Heffernan), USA (Ben Curtis, Brandt Snedeker), Spain (Miguel Angel Jimenez, Pablo Larrazabal
65: New Zealand (Mark Brown, David Smail), Denmark (Soren Hansen, Anders Hansen), Ireland (Graeme McDowell, Paul McGinley), Sweden (Henrik Stenson, Robert Karlsson)
66: Japan (Ryuji Imada, Toru Taniguchi), Mexico (Daniel De Leon, Osca Serna)
67: India (Jeev Mikha Singh,Jyoti Randhawa), Chile (Felipe Aguilar, Mark Tullo), Portugal,(Tiago Cruz, Ricardo Santos), Philippines (Angelo Que, Mars Pucay)
68: France (Gregory Havret , Gregory Bourdy), Chinese Taipei (Lin Wen-tang,Lu Wen-teh), Korea (Bae Sang-moon, Kim Hyung-tae), Scotland (Alastair Forsyth, Colin Montgomerie)
69: Thailand (Prayad Marksaeng, Thongchai Jaidee), Wales (Bradley Dredge, Richard Johnson), England (Ian Poulter, Ross Fisher), Finland (Roope Kakko, Mikko Korhonen), Guatemala (Pablo Acuna, Alejandro Villavicencio), China (Liang Wen-chong, Zhang Lian-wei)
70: Italy (Francesco Molinari, Edoardo Molinari), South Africa (Rory Sabbatini, Richard Sterne)
71: Venezuela (Miguel Martinez, Rual Sanz)
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