Graeme Mcdowell (Getty Images)
Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy made a solid start in the early stages of the opening round of the UBS Hong Kong Open with the Northern Irish duo amongst the early pacesetters.
The Ryder Cup stars are keen to perform well in The European Tour’s penultimate event of the season with McDowell bidding to be crowned Europe’s Number One while McIlroy is chasing only his second victory on the circuit.
Starting on the tenth, McDowell immediately picked up a birdie before adding further gains on the 13th and 16th holes to reach the turn two under.
The US Open champion added two further birdies over the next four holes and was five under through 13.
McIlroy – who has twice finished second at the event - also started on the tenth and shot three birdies on his outward nine before picking up successive shots on the first and second holes.
England’s Simon Dyson was also amongst the leading pack, as were Scotland’s Richie Ramsay and Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand.
Ian Poulter was two under through 13 holes while defending champion Gregory Bourdy and Europe’s Ryder Cup winning captain Colin Montgomerie are still to tee off.