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OUR TOUGH TASK; Irish duo setting sights on testing format as Australians blaze a trail.

AUSTRALIAN duo Richard Green and Brendan Jones carded a superb 61 to take a two-shot lead over Ireland and Scotland after the first round of the World Cup in China.

Taking full advantage of the fourballs format, Green and Jones went to the turn in 32 at Mission Hills Resort on Hainan Island before storming home in 29 with two eagles and three birdies.

"We combined very well," Green told reporters."Brendan obviously started very well and built the momentum."

Ireland, represented by major winners Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, kept in touch after returning a 63 to lie nine u1nder par.

"I thought it was a very solid start," said McIlroy, who was second with McDowell when the event was last played two years ago.

"We sort of set a target around eight to 10 under par that we thought was going to be a good score and we managed to shoot around that.

"It puts us in a great position going into the next three days. The fourballs this week are where you're going to make most of your birdies and the foursomes is a more demanding format where both players need to be on their games to shoot a low score.

"It was a good start but we know we still have got a tough job ahead of us."

Scotland's Martin Laird and Stephen Gallacher also produced a superb bogey-free effort with an eagle two at the 16th - when Laird chipped in - accompanying seven birdies.

"It was a great way to finish," Gallacher said. "We were just saying coming down 14, 15, we had done well and nothing had really went for us but if we could have a strong finish....with Martin's chip-in at 16 and the bunker shot on the last, we've certainly done that."

Laird added: "That's what it's going to be like in fourballs because it frees everyone up. You have a partner sitting in the middle of the green and you are taking dead aim on your second shot."

AUSTRALIA'S Steven Bowditch matched Choi Joon-woo's six-under-par 66 to share the lead with the South Korean after the opening round of the Australian PGA Championship at Coolum.

On a day when a host of players including Jason Day threatened record scores and fellow Queenslander Adam Scott staged a remarkable recovery to stay in the hunt, it was firstly Choi and then Bowditch who capitalised most on the favourable conditions.

One shot adrift are Australians Aaron Baddeley, Andre Stolz and Aaron Townsend as well as American Bubba Watson, while Steve Conran and Marcus Fraser are among those tied for seventh two shots back.

Open champion Darren Clarke, Day, Robert Allenby, American Rickie Fowler and South Korean YE Yang all lie at three under par, while Scott, Stuart Appleby and defending champion Peter Senior all finished with 70s.

Having seen Tristan Lambert, Rohan Blizard, Clarke and Fraser all lead early on and then Watson and Townsend post 67s, Choi reached the turn two under and picked up an eagle and three birdies coming home.

"I played this course last year so I know it well (and) I'm really enjoying being able to play here again," he said.


* RORY MCILROY: two shots back for Ireland with Graeme McDowell
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Nov 25, 2011
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