Indifferent day for Dunne at China Open

Paul Dunne returned a bit of a mixed bag to open his 2018 Volvo China Open bid with a one-under-par round of 71 in Beijing.

Dunne tuned up for this week’s tournament by taking up the challenge of playing a traditional Chinese zither and there were plenty of bum notes struck in his indifferent opening effort.

“It’s great to get the chance to do things like this when we travel, as tournaments often have the habit of running into each other without a break”, he noted pre-tournament after showcasing his questionable musical talents. “This has been a fun experience and gave us a personal taste of the local culture.”

Yet playtime is over so to speak for the Greystones man who carded five birdies along with four bogeys to share in a big tie for 48thafter day one. He will need to cut out the errors tomorrow, however, if he is to contend amongst some hot scoring in China.

It was a day for the home hopefuls as Jin Daxing stormed into the first round lead, with Italy’s Nino Bertasio and Englishman Matt Wallace one shot back, while Hideto Tanihara of Japan holed an ace to take home a brand new car.

Jin, a relative unknown who earned entry for this week’s event through the China Golf Association, has not yet made the cut in four attempts at China’s national Open.

But the 25-year-old – whose first name Daxing translates to English as ‘Big Star’ while his surname Jin translates as ‘Gold’ – turned that form on its head at Topwin Golf and Country Club as he carded a bogey-free eight under 64 to sit atop the leaderboard.

“I played really well today”, acknowledged the leader. “I’m really happy with my form and I have to say I would give myself 100 marks for today’s round. My strategy today was just to hit the greens in the regulation and I did that for 17 of the 18 holes, and the one I missed I managed a par, so that was great.

“On eight I was about ten yards from the pin with my second shot and I saw Scott (Jamieson) make eagle from a similar position so I had confidence that I might chip it in. I read the line from Scott’s shot and holed it.

“I’ve been relaxed coming into this week because I don’t have too much expectation but I’ll just keep playing one stroke at a time, one day at a time and see how it goes for me.”

Just behind were Bertasio, who in his third full season on the European Tour is still chasing a maiden title, and Wallace, who has already added a second career title to his cabinet this season at the Hero Indian Open. They both carded 65s to share second place on seven under, while defending champion and winner of last week’s Trophée Hassan II Alexander Levy was five shots back on three under.

Tanihara, meanwhile, had reason to celebrate despite a level par 72 as the 39 year old found the cup with his tee shot on the 16th hole – an eight iron from 197 yards – to earn a Volvo XC90.