Mixed bag for Ryan Fox as wild weather plays a part in opening round
Kiwi Ryan Fox beat the weather during the opening day of the Shenzhen International in China, but had to settle for a mixed bag of a round.
The 30-year-old carded four birdies and three bogeys in a one-under par 71 to start the European Tour event on Thursday, giving him a share of 32nd with 19 others.
Wild weather lashed the Genzon Golf Course, with strong wind, rain and the threat of lightning causing a two-hour delay, before clearing late in the day.
Playing in his first tournament since the New Zealand Open in Arrowtown last month, Fox trails American leader Bubba Watson (-6) by five strokes.
Watson, who nailed an eagle on the par-five second, leads five golfers, including South African Haydn Porteous, Frenchman Gregory Bourdy and Thai Thongchai Jaidee, by a stroke.
Fox's up and down round saw him drop strokes at the par-four fifth and par-three eighth before a stretch of four birdies in five holes..
The 150th ranked golfer in the world, the only Kiwi in the field, birdied three of the first four holes on the back nine after turning at one-over. But he dropped a further shot after bogeying the 187m par-three 16th.
Starting on the 10th hole, Watson bogeyed the 12th but bounced back with birdies at the 13th, 14th and 16th holes to turn in 34. A birdie at the first hole was then followed by an approach shot to eight feet on the par-five second, setting up an eagle that sent Watson to the top of the leaderboard.
"I just made putts today," Watson said. "Most of my swings and most of my shots were really good today and there were no bad swings in there so it just made the score better."
South Africa's Dylan Frittelli finished his round and was tied for seventh at four-under 68, along with Dane Thorbjorn Olesen, Eduardo de la Riva of Spain and Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, who all have holes to complete when play resumes on Friday.
Meanwhile, New Zealand's Michael Hendry is tied for 60th after carding a one-over 72 in the first round of the Panasonic Open in Noda, Japan, eight strokes off the lead.
Hendry was wayward off the tee and on his approach shots but his putter kept his round from getting out of control, with two birdies and three bogeys at the co-sanctioned Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour tournament.
The Kiwi found the fairway on only 5-of-14 holes and hit 8-of-18 greens in regulation, but needed only 27 putts in his round and converted 2-of-3 sand saves. Hendry bogeyed the par-four second but responded with a fine birdie at the par-three third. After another bogey at the par-four eight, he made the turn in 36. A birdie at the par-four 15th got him back to even, before his last bogey at the par-four 17th.
Australian duo Brendan Jones and Terry Pilkadaris are five shots off the pace set by American Jason Knutzon after the first round of the Panasonic Open golf tournament in Japan.
American Jason Knutzon fired a seven-under 64 at the Chiba Country Club to take a two-stroke lead over Japan's Satoshi Kodaira and Thailand's Udorn Duangdecha. Four players are tied for fourth at four-under while eight golfers sit at three-under.