Charl and Louis look ahead to second day in China

It may look as if they have a mountain to climb after their opening four-under-par 68 in the opening round of the Omega Mission Hills World Cup on Thursday, but Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen are cautiously optimistic ahead of the second day.

They made eight birdies between them – unfortunately, it was four each on exactly the same holes – in the fourball format of the opening day on the 6,828-metre (7,441-yard) version of the Mission Hills Blackstone layout.

That left them trailing leaders Australia by seven after Richard Green and Brendon Jones combined superbly for and 11-under-par betterball score of 61.

“Four-under is not out of it – it’s still there,” said Oosthuizen.

“We played really well today – the score just doesn’t show it,” agreed Schwartzel.

And they also agreed that it was their putting that let them down. “Whenever we had a good chance of making birdie, we just didn’t make the putts,” said Oosthuizen before he headed off to the practice green to work on a few things. “We’re just struggling a bit to see the lines,” he added.

“We just didn’t read the greens well. We putted very poorly, and four-under was probably the worst we could shoot,” said Schwartzel.

In contrast, the Australians felt their 61 was pretty much as good as it gets, even though they did not take advantage of two of the par-fives – they made par on six and 13. “Obviously, the par-fives are great opportunities, but we were probably a little out of position on 13,” said Green.

“I don’t think there is a good position on 13,” said Jones of the 625-metre monster, which Green said was the longest par-five he’s played in his life.

Australia led by two from Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, together with Martin Laird and Stephen Gallacher of Scotland.

Matt Kuchar and the big-hitting Gary Woodland combined for the United States to share fourth on eight-under-par 64 together with Joost Luiten and Robert-Jan Derksen of the Netherlands.

For the South Africans, the hope of getting back into the fray lies in the format for the second round: It will be foursomes – alternate shot – as it will be in the final round.

“I’m guessing in the foursomes, if we keep hitting the ball like we are, we can easily shoot seven-under-par,” said Schwartzel. “We can go low in the foursomes. We’re both hitting it well; we’re both rolling the ball well – so if we can just find some lines, we can cause some damage.”

Oosthuizen agreed. “We play almost every practice round together, and know each other’s games, and we’re pretty similar distance-wise and all those things, so we’re looking forward to tomorrow.”

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