McDowell shook off much of the rust from last week’s disappointing finish in the BMW Masters to be a lot sharper after day one of the WGC–HSBC Champions also in Shanghai. The former US Open champion signed off for a three under par 69 to be trailing just four shots behind another former US Open winner, his fellow Irishman Rory McIlroy.
McIlroy’s seven under par 65 for his two-shot lead over past Irish Open winner Jamie Donaldson and Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano is the first time he’s led a first round of any tournament by himself since shooting a similar 65 to lead by three shots the first day of the 2011 US Open at Congressional. But while McIlroy sets his sights again on ending a near 12-month winless drought, McDowell is still very much intent on ending his season as Europe’s number one-ranked golfer.
While McDowell trails Henrik Stenson by €443,725 on the money list, Fernandez-Castano (Gonzo) went from 35th to fourth with last week’s BMW Masters triumph and has shown in Shanghai he’s the player in form.
“There are big repercussions for me to play well this week, especially with what Gonzo did last week,” said McDowell. “I played him last week and he’s the kind of guy who gets his eye in using the putter, he can be a pretty dangerous player, as he is a quality iron player.
“So while Henrik still leads the Race to Dubai there are players like Gonzo behind me and I need to do my best that they don’t go past me.
“Also I am not playing Turkey next week so I have to make the most of this week before Dubai and the final event.”