BMW Masters: Luke Guthrie shoots 65 to hold three-shot lead after day one in Shanghai
The first leg of the European Tour's Final Series - the BMW Masters in China - is being led by a trio of Americans.
Last Updated: 25/10/13 7:02am
The only US players in the field occupy the first three spots with Luke Guthrie enjoying a three-shot lead over John Daly (68) after carding a superb seven-under 65. Peter Uihlein (69) is four back on three-under.
The 23-year-old Guthrie, who finished fifth in the Shriners Hospitals for Childrens Open in Las Vegas on Sunday, made light of the windy conditions at Lake Malaren in Shanghai which contributed to just 13 of the 78-man field breaking par.
That relatively small bunch includes Rory McIlroy, who shot a one-under 71.
Guthrie, who only turned professional last year, carded birdies at the second, third and seventh to reach the turn in 33, before also picking up shots on the 13th and 14th and chipping in for an eagle on the par-five 15th. Amazingly, he took just 19 putts.
"It was a great day," said world no 85 Guthrie, who qualified as one of the leading 60 available players within the top 100 of the Official World Golf Rankings.
"It was one of the better rounds I've ever played. I was really looking forward to this tournament on my schedule and I just can't be more happy to be here."
Daly's bogey-free 68 came as an even bigger surprise given his lack of recent action.
He said: "After not playing a competitive round in about 14, 15 weeks, it felt pretty good. I just stayed calm and when you haven't played in a while, you want to execute and hit solid shots."
Race To Dubai battle
This week's event is the first of four tournaments which make up the inaugural Final Series on the European Tour, with Sweden's Henrik Stenson holding a lead of 425,573 euros (£362,660) over Graeme McDowell at the top of the Race to Dubai.
But with a first prize of 850,000 euros (£725,000) on offer here and a total prize fund of almost £20million in the four events, the battle to become European number one in Dubai in mid-November is far from over.
Stenson, whose victory in the Tour Championship in Atlanta last month secured a £6.2million bonus for winning the FedEx Cup, carded three birdies and three bogeys in a level par 72 while McDowell fired a two-under 70 which included an eagle at 15.
McIlroy, who has not won a tournament in 2013 after five victories in 2012 but was second in Korea last week, three-putted the fourth after a birdie on the second but then picked up shots on the seventh and ninth - the only one of the day on the tough 470-yard par four.
However, he had to settle for a one-under 71 after two bogeys and just a single birdie coming home as the course played every inch of its 7,600 yards.
Holland's Joost Luiten - twice a winner on the European Tour this season - immediately withdrew due to a shoulder injury after hitting his opening tee-shot.
Players need to play in two of the first three Final Series tournaments to qualify for the final event in Dubai while those who play in all three are given a 20% bonus to their points tally. By hitting a shot, Luiten is deemed to have played in this tournament.
Watch all the action from the Lake Malaren Golf Club in Shanghai from 5.30am on Sky Sports 1 HD on Friday and Saturday and from 4.30am on Sunday