King Louis off to a flyer in China

Louis Oosthuizen fired a flawless 65 at Mission Hills Golf Club on Thursday, soaring to tied first after round one of the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament.

“I didn’t expect a birdie fest, but once you saw the guys going three or four-under through five or six holes on the leaderboard you started seeing birdies on the golf course,” he said.

The 2010 Open Champion faced an unusual setup in China – the course has five par-fives – and used the long holes to his advantage.

“The par fives play a big role. If you have a day where you eagle one and birdie the rest you’ve picked up six shots. If you hit it well off the tee you’ve got a good chance.

“It’s long, but this is a normal track except that it’s got five par fives. I played solid, especially on those holes, and making four birdies there really helped,” he said.

It was an overall tight round by the 29-year-old, who was tied-second for birdies on day one. The flat stick backed up good iron play and soon Oosthuizen joined Adam Scott atop the leaderboard.

The Mossel Bay local finished tied seventh at the event last year. He’ll be confident after reaching seven-under-par amongst a field containing 13 of the world’s top 20, but, as always, he was humble in his assessment of an opening 65.

“Here and there a few loose shots, but just played nice and solid today. I never really had long putts for birdie – I made a 12-footer on nine and one other 20-footer, so it was just a solid round. I’m glad there’s a few buggy rides out there, course it’s a five-and-a-half hour round,” he said.

Thomas Aiken shot an impressive 68 for a first-round share of ninth, while Garth Mulroy and Ernie Els joined a nine-way tie for 19th with their opening 70s.

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