Ryder Cup Swede Peter Hanson continued his brilliant form in China today – and that was bad news for the absent Rory McIlroy.
Four days after beating the world number one to become BMW Masters champion in Shanghai the 35-year-old led the WGC-HSBC Champions at Mission Hills.
Hanson, with a chance to take over from McIlroy at the head of the European Tour money list, had seven birdies and a bogey in his first 16 holes.
That put him alongside Masters champion Bubba Watson, his playing partner, but while the American then bogeyed the short eighth – their 17th – Hanson played a superb chip from left of the green to remain six under.
As that was happening Dustin Johnson, another of the six-strong United States Ryder Cup contingent, eagled the long seventh from 18 feet and burst to five under to be in a tie for second place with Watson and Ireland’s Shane Lowry, who still had seven holes to play.
Twice winner Phil Mickelson was only one further back, while Ian Poulter and Luke Donald both stood three under.
McIlroy and world number two Tiger Woods were both non-starters despite having played an exhibition match in China at the start of the week.