No surprise as McDowell leads in Shanghai
Patrick Reed could face a sanction after he used language that could be construed as homophobic
Graeme McDowell plays his second shot in to the ninth hole during the first round of the WGC - HSBC Champions at the Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, China. Photoghraph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
Patrick Reed hit the headlines for the wrong reasons in Shanghai on the opening day of the WGC-HSBC Champions event. While playing partner Graeme McDowell claimed a two-shot lead with a five-under-par 67 at Sheshan — despite dropping two shots in the last six holes - Reed was turning the air blue.
The American was just four off the pace after a round of 71, but Reed could find himself in hot water with tournament officials after being caught on camera not only swearing at himself on the first hole, his 10th of the day, but also using language which could be interpreted as being homophobic.
Television commentators swiftly apologised after Reed was clearly heard saying “Nice f****** three-putt you f****** f*****,” after his second bogey of the day.
PGA Tour officials are understood to be looking into the matter, although the Tour has a policy of not disclosing any disciplinary sanctions it issues.
McDowell played his first 12 holes in seven under par but failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker on the fourth and then paid the price for what he called “a comedy of errors” on the par-five eighth, where he missed his only fairway of the day and also pulled his approach left of the green. “A big key to this golf course is driving the ball well,”
He added: “I drove it very well today. I think I missed only one fairway, which is very important and the greens are in fantastic shape and I actually putted very well.
“Seven under par through 12 holes was a beautiful start. I dropped a couple coming in, but all in all, I am very, very pleased with five under par on what I thought was a reasonably tricky day.
“This is as tough off the tee as I think I’ve ever seen this golf course. Obviously it was very low scoring here last year (Dustin Johnson won on 24 under par). The rough was fairly thick last year, but it played so much softer and effectively, the fairways played wider and the greens were so much more receptive.”
McDowell failed to advance to the knockout stages in the defence of his Volvo World Match Play title last month, but finished joint 16th in the BMW Masters on Sunday and believes he is well placed to take advantage of the lucrative events at the end of the season.
“This stage of the season has always been a part of the season I’ve enjoyed,” the 35-year-old said. “I think historically I’ve played five, six, seven in a row this time of the year and I’ve kind of prepared myself for this stage of the year.
“The only stage of the season that I struggle with at the minute is that end of August, September period when they are giving away a lot of money in the States (in the FedEx Cup play-offs). That’s been the hard part of the season for me the last four years.
“But this part of the season, I typically take three or four weeks off in or around the Ryder Cup and prepare myself for this and I’ve normally played fairly well.”
McDowell had strapping on his left wrist but was quick to allay any injury fears, adding: “It’s nothing sinister. It’s just a result of some stuff I’m working on in my swing at the minute, especially my short game. I’m really trying to throw the club head hard at the ball and it’s putting more strain in my left wrist than I’m used to.”
Martin Kaymer’s 69 was matched by England’s Tommy Fleetwood to ensure the pair share second place with South African Tim Clark and American trio Rickie Fowler, Chris Kirk and Brandt Snedeker.
It continued US Open champion Kaymer’s impressive record at the venue. “It’s a good start and I really enjoy playing here anyway,” said Kaymer, who shot a final round of 63 on his way to victory in 2011 and also holds the course record of 62.
“Even when I was at level par today I just kept telling myself, you enjoy the golf course so much, and you will have plenty of birdie chances, so you just need to wait. Fortunately today on the back nine, it turned out well.”
Lee Westwood and last year’s runner-up Ian Poulter were among an 11-strong group on two under par which included world number two Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson, while Justin Rose had to settle for a level-par 72.