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Friday, 19 March 2010
Thomas Björn made the most of difficult conditions to share the early clubhouse lead with six other players after a one under par 70 in the first round of the Volvo China Open.

The Dane battled a stiff breeze to card five birdies and four bogeys to tie other early starters Yasin Ali of England, Dutchman Robert-Jan Derksen, China's Qiu Zhi-feng, Swede Chris Hanell as well as Australians Uhno Park and Adam Blyth.

"It was certainly very difficult today, it was a grind from start to finish," Björn, who missed the cut at the Masters last weekend, said.

"You're certainly going to make bogeys on this course, the way it is set up.

"The fairways are very narrow, it's almost worth just hitting the driver so if you miss the fairway at least you're fairly close to the green."

Asian Tour players have had the upper hand in the last three events on the continent jointly sanctioned by The European Tour and Asian Tour. 

If Europe is to strike back this week, however, it will not be through Ali, who would have had the outright lead were it not for a double bogey when he found the water at the 18th.

Born in Kenya to a family with Indian and Pakistani origins, Ali moved to England when he was seven and now spends most of his time on the Asian Tour from his base in Dubai.

"I'm an international man of mystery, even I don't know where I'm from most of the time," he joked after hitting five birdies in his round of 70.

"It was a great round but I finished poorly ... but I'm still quite pleased. I'm moving in the right direction with my game."

Qiu's round was a boost for hopes of a Chinese winner, which in the main rest with recent Clariden Leu Singapore Masters champion Liang Wen-chong, a late first round starter.

Former caddie Qiu recovered from a double bogey at the first hole and further dropped shots at the fourth and fifth with five birdies.

Thai Thongchai Jaidee and last year's runner-up Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano of Spain were among six players sharing eighth in the clubhouse after par 71 rounds.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1BRIER, MarkusAUT18-10
T2MCLARDY, AndrewRSA18-5
T2MCDOWELL, GraemeNIR18-5
T2HEND, ScottAUS18-5
5STERNE, RichardRSA18-4
T6JACQUELIN, RaphaëlFRA18-3
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