HAIKOU, China - Brendan Jones and Richard Green put Australia on top after the first day of golf’s World Cup and hoped their performance would stir up interest in the event back home.
The duo combined to record two eagles and seven birdies in an 11-under par 61 in the fourball format on the Blackstone course on China’s Hainan Island, with Irish pair Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell two back after a 63.
Also on nine-under was Scotland’s Martin Laird and Stephen Gallacher.
“Golf in Australia at the moment is all about the Australian PGA Championship at Coolum and do they even know the World Cup is on here in China?” Jones told Reuters.
“It would be nice to get a line in the newspapers to say we are leading the World Cup and hopefully go two places better than finishing third three year back.
“We just got blown away that last day in 2008 with Sweden shooting nine under so if we get that opportunity again this week then we will learn from our mistakes.”
Both Jones and Green had also been keen to compete at last week’s Presidents Cup but fell short of automatically qualifying for Greg Norman’s Internationals.
“Brendan and I were both in the Internationals squad and as circumstances turned out we didn’t qualify automatically for the team because we didn’t play well enough at the right times,” Green told Reuters.
“So when the opportunity came up to come here to China and represent Australia we snapped at it. It’s a great feeling playing for your country and besides it’s been a long time since Grades (Wayne Grady) and Chook (Peter Fowler) last won the World Cup for Australia.
“So hopefully as Brendan said we’re out to make amends for not winning three years ago and also to boost our own individual pride in not making the Presidents Cup side.”
Ireland’s duo eagled the par five sixth and managed seven birdies, and McDowell breathed a sigh of relief when his partner parred the last after he had missed an eight-footer.
“It would have been really disappointing not to have parred the last so it was good to see my partner knock that one in for a four,” said McDowell.
“We gelled really well today and Rory’s a pretty decent little partner, as well.”
The U.S. team of Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland birdied five of their closing seven holes to finish the day tied with Netherlands in fourth at eight under par.