12-year-old struggles in wind
Ye Wocheng (Getty Images)
Beijing - China's 12-year-old Ye Wocheng became the European Tour's youngest ever player when he teed off at the Volvo China Open Thursday, but struggled in the stiff wind.
However Dutchman Robert-Jan Derksen made light of the conditions to shoot a six-under-par 66 and take a two-shot lead after the opening round.
Ye struck his opening drive firmly down the middle of the fairway but finished only with a 79, while his 16-year-old fellow qualifier Dou Ze-cheng shot an impressive 70.
But Ye said he was proud to have broken the age record set last year by countryman Guan Tianlang, who made history last month by becoming the youngest player to take part in the US Masters.
Guan was docked a shot for taking too long during the second round at Augusta and Ye also came under time pressure Thursday.
"I was a little nervous when I teed off but I tried to forget the nerves," he said, in comments supplied by OneAsia, who co-sanctioned the tournament.
"(Then) the referee timed me -- and warned me to play more quickly. I was affected a little - Guan Tianlang was penalised as well. I will pay more attention to this."
Derksen shrugged off two early bogeys with eight birdies around the links-style course at Tianjin Binhai Lake Golf Club.
Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat, France's Raphael Jacquelin and Australian Brett Rumford shared second place, while six players were grouped a shot further back.
Defending champion Branden Grace, aiming to become the first person to lift the title for a second time and against a field that boasts six other former winners, ended with 74.
"It was a funny day because I started well with a birdie from about five feet but then three-putted the third and fourth and ended up in three divots on the fairways later in the round," said Derksen.
"But I made a lot of birdies (coming home), and I've ended the day in a really good position. I started making a few putts and my confidence lifted."Leading scores after Round 1 (am- denotes amateur):
66 - Robert-Jan Derksen (NED)
68 - Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA), Raphael Jacquelin (FRA), Brett Rumford (AUS)
69 - Park Sang-Hyun (KOR), Aaron Townsend (AUS), Mikko Ilonen (FIN), Lee Slattery (ENG), Terry Pilkadaris (AUS), Paul Lawrie (SCO)
70 - Garrett Sapp (USA), Mark Foster (ENG), Dou Ze-cheng (am, CHN), Stephen Gallacher (SCO), Yan Bin (CHN), Alexander Noren (SWE), Thomas Bjorn (DEN), Alvaro Quiros (ESP), Estanislao Goya (ARG), S.S.P Chowrasia (IND), Ricardo Santos (POR), Matthew Griffin (AUS), Matthew Baldwin (ENG), Graeme Storm (ENG), Lee Hyung-Joon (KOR)