Raphaël Jacquelin and Søren Kjeldsen battled for the first round lead in the BMW Asian Open today, with the Frenchmen edging the Dane by one stroke at the end of play at Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club.
Jacquelin fired a first round 66 to go 6-under par, up one on Kjeldsen, who's at 5-under.
Thirty-two players finished under par during a day that saw fierce winds and tough playing conditions.
Colin Montgomerie, who finished third here last year, was three off the lead. Retief Goosen and Ernie Els - the world's No. 8 and 5, respectively - both shot opening round 71s and were five off the lead.
Jacquelin got off to a strong start in the morning round, with birdies on two of the first five opening holes, before dropping a stroke with a bogey five on the par-4 sixth.
That was the only stroke Jacquelin dropped as he went on to record five more birdies, including one on the par-4 18th.
Kjeldsen was in the hunt from the start, with birdies on two of the opening five holes. He made the turn with birdies on the par-4 10th and par-5 13th. But a misfired approach on the par-4 18th led to a bogey and cost him a share of the lead.
Jacquelin has only won one time on the European PGA Tour, at the Open de Madrid in 2005 (his 238th start). But he's been playing strong of late, finishing third three weeks ago at the Estoril Open de Portugal and leading through the halfway point last week at the Volvo China Open, before struggling during the 36-hole weekend.
Montgomerie's round was marked with missed opportunities, but the Scotsman did not record a bogey. Els was putting together a strong round before back-to-back three-putts after the turn caused the South African, second last week at the Verizon Heritage, to slip away.
John Daly, one of the few Americans in the field, shot a seven-over 79 and is nine strokes back.
April 19, 2007
With stellar play on the back nine at Royal Birkdale, Padraig Harrington shot a 69 in the final round to earn a four-shot victory and become Europe's first back-to-back British Open champion in more than a century. He earned nearly $1.5 million and climbed to No. 3 in the world rankings. "I'm really thrilled with the way I felt today on the golf course," Harrington said. "I hit the ball as pure as I could and just felt really good."
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