Round 1 Notebook: HSBC Champions

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November 04, 2010
Doug Milne, PGA TOUR staff

Francesco Molinari

• After making the turn at three-under-par, Italy's Francesco Molinari reeled off four straight birdies on holes No. 3-6 to climb to the top of the leaderboard at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions. His 65 (-7) was one of four bogey-free rounds posted in round one.

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• Molinari finished T10 at the 2009 HSBC Champions in his first appearance. This year marks the first time in his career he has qualified for and played in every World Golf Championships event.

• Molinari has had success in China, winning the OMEGA Mission Hills World Cup with his brother Edoardo last November.

Lee Westwood

• Newly minted World No. 1 Lee Westwood finished with back-to-back birdies and recorded a 66 (-6) in the opening round of the HSBC Champions.

• Westwood, the defending Race to Dubai Champion -- and No. 3 in the standings currently -- won on the PGA TOUR for the first time in 12 years when he captured the 2010 St. Jude Classic presented by Smith & Nephew. He is looking for his for his first victory on the European Tour this season and first World Golf Championships win.

• Westwood ended Tiger Woods' reign of 281 straight weeks at the top of the Official World Golf Ranking when he moved to No. 1 on Monday.

• Westwood finished T8 at the 2009 HSBC Champions in his first appearance.

Yuta Ikeda

• Twenty-four-year-old Yuta Ikeda of Japan fired an opening round 67 (-5), recovering nicely from an inauspicious start to his day. He made back-to-back bogeys on No. 10 and 11, but rebounded with a birdie on the 12th and an eagle-2 on the 13th.

• Ikeda's eagle was one of four recorded during the first round, although his was the only one on a par four. The other eagles were made by Thailand's Pariya Junhasavasdikul on No. 2 (he shot 74); South Korea's Y.E. Yang on No. 8 (69); and Australia's Stuart Appleby on No. 18 (72).

• Ikeda is making his second start at the HSBC Champions, and today's round is his first in the 60s at Sheshan International Golf Club. He finished T51 last year with rounds of 73-73-71-72.

• Ikeda, No. 54 in the Official World Golf Ranking, is a seven-time winner on the Japan Golf Tour, including three wins this season. He qualified for this week's event by virtue of his win at the 2010 Bridgestone Open Ikeda has qualified for and competed in all four World Golf Championships this season for the first time in his career: T33 at the Accenture Match Play Championship; T22 at the CA Championship; T69 at the Bridgestone Invitational.

Henrik Stenson

• Sweden's Henrik Stenson carded a 67 (-5) in round one, his first round in the 60s at a World Golf Championships event since the opening round of last year's HSBC Champions. Stenson, winner of the 2007 Accenture Match Play Championship, is hoping to join Tiger Woods, Darren Clarke, Geoff Ogilvy, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els as winners of multiple World Golf Championships events.

• Stenson is one of four players who have participated in all five of the previous HSBC Champions events (with Paul Casey, Padraig Harrington and Ian Poulter). His best finish here is a T5 in 2008, before the event was elevated to World Golf Championships status.

Seung-yul Noh

• Nineteen-year old Seung-yul Noh posted one of four bogey-free rounds of the day with a 67 (-5) in his first World Golf Championships start.

• Noh won the 2010 Maybank Malaysian Open, making him the third-youngest player to win a tournament on the European Tour behind Matteo Manassero and Danny Lee. The win in Malaysia qualified Noh for the HSBC Champions.

• Noh could be the youngest winner in World Golf Championships history, a record currently held by Tiger Woods, who won the 1999 Bridgestone Invitational at age 23 years, 7 months, 9 days.

Tiger Woods

• Tiger Woods arrived at the HSBC Champions in unfamiliar territory -- not No. 1 in the OWGR for the first time since June 5, 2005. But as one of four players in the field who could be No. 1 at the end of the week (Lee Westwood, Phil Mickelson, Martin Kaymer), Woods opened with a 68 (-4) on Thursday and is three shots off the lead.

• He has not opened with back-to-back rounds in the 60s yet this year.

• With 16 World Golf Championships titles and 28 top-10 finishes in 32 starts, the HSBC Champions is the only World Golf Championships title Woods has not captured. Woods has won at least one of the World Golf Championships each season since the series' inception. He would need to do so this week to keep that streak alive, as well as to avoid going winless for the first time in his 15-year PGA TOUR career.

• Woods has played in the HSBC Champions three times before and finished runner-up twice (2006, finished second to Y.E. Yang; 2005, finished second to David Howell) and T6 last year, where he was in the final pairing with Phil Mickelson but was never a factor (72 on Sunday).

Miscellaneous

• A total of 22 of the 78 players in the field broke 70 in the first round; 34 players broke par, while 51 were at par or better.

• Bogey-free rounds were posted by four players: Francesco Molinari (65); Seung-Yul Noh (67); Luke Donald (68) and Fredrik Andersson Hed (69).

• HSBC Champions and PGA TOUR eligibility: --For 2010 and going forward, the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in Shanghai will count as an official PGA TOUR victory and offer a three-year exemption on the PGA TOUR - provided it is won by a PGA TOUR member.

--The change is not retroactive, meaning that Phil Mickelson's win in 2009 does not count toward his official victory total.

--If a non-PGA TOUR member wins the HSBC Champions, he would not receive a PGA TOUR exemption, but he would qualify for the SBS Championship.

--Prize money from the $7 million purse does NOT, however, count toward the official PGA TOUR money list, even if a PGA TOUR member wins.

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