• Li leads, Saffas start well

    Haotong Li
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    Li Haotong opened up a one-shot lead after the first round of the WGC-HSBC Champions thanks to a brilliant 64 to thrill the home crowds.

    The Chinese announced himself to the world with a top 10 at Sheshan International Golf Club in 2015 and since then has gone on to claim two European Tour wins.

    He made seven birdies and an eagle as he got to eight under on day one in Shanghai to lead the way from Frenchman Victor Perez.

    Perez was making his World Golf Championships debut after claiming a maiden European Tour victory at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last month and he carded two eagles en route to a 65.

    England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick, defending champion Xander Schauffele, Australian Adam Scott and South Korea’s Sungjae Im were at six under, a shot clear of world No 2 Rory McIlroy, Austrian Matthias Schwab and Canadian Corey Conners.

    Li entered the week 23rd on the Race to Dubai Rankings but a first WGC victory would put him right into the mix to be crowned Europe’s No 1 heading into the final three Rolex Series events of the season.

    South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen made the 28th hole-in-one of the season on the sixth as he got to four under alongside Abraham Ancer, Danny Willett and Zhang Xinjun.

    Oosthuizen’s ace was on the back of a birdie at the 2nd and at the short 4th but he was unable maintain the electric pace set by the leaders as he dropped back with a bogey on eight.

    Christiaan Bezuidenhout was four under through nine but settled for a -3 start in a round that included four drops.

    Bryce Easton and Neil Schietekat were the next best South Africans a shot further back.

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