Lorenzo-Vera takes China Open first-day honors

(China Daily)
Updated: 2008-04-18 10:30

Unheralded Michael Lorenzo-Vera of France set the early pace at the Volvo China Open when he fired a 5-under-par 67 to take the first-round lead Thursday.

Lorenzo-Vera takes China Open first-day honors
Michael Lorenzo-Vera of France during the competition. []

China's Li Chao gave the home crowd something to cheer about as he finished strongly and has the leading Chinese player, taking a share of second place with six others.

Asian Tour regulars, Simon Griffiths of England, Jason Knutzon of the United States, Joost Luiten of the Netherlands, and Ireland's Damien McGrane, as well as England's Zane Scotland and Richard Finch were all tied for second with Li on 68.

Despite playing in his rookie year on the European Tour, the 23-year-old Frenchman got off to a shaky start with an opening bogey but got himself back into the game with a birdie on the second followed by two more on the sixth and ninth holes before making the turn at 33.

"I am just enjoying my rookie year now. I am making better decisions and it is getting easier," Lorenzo-Vera said. "I just have to be more confident in what I am doing and I'm sure I'll do well."

Li, meanwhile, got off to a slow start on the front nine when he posted a bogey on the 199-yard, par-3 third hole and got his only birdie of the first nine on the ninth. But the 27-year old Chinese battled to a strong finish with four birdies after the turn to keep the Chinese flag flying.

"I did not get off to a good start, especially with my bogey on the third hole. But I managed to regain my composure and I think I did pretty well after that," Li said. "My putting was really good today and I think that really helped me a lot."

Knutzon, who endured a frustrating start to the season after missing the cut in five of six events on the Asian Tour, looks set to turn his fortunes around after recording a bogey-free round at the $2.2 million event, which is sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and China Golf Association.

Defending champion Markus Brier carded a 71 to finish tied for 18th while home favorite Liang Wenchong, who attracted large galleries at the Beijing CBD International Golf Course, posted a 73 to take a share of 42nd place.

"It's really nice to see the home fans following me throughout the day. I'll try my best to put in a stronger performance tomorrow so as to make all of them, including myself happy," Liang said.