HAIKOU, CHINA - The Australian team of Richard Green and Brendan Jones combined to shoot an 11-under 61 on Thursday to take a two-shot lead after the first round of the World Cup of Golf.
Green and Jones had two eagles and seven birdies at Mission Hills Golf Club and began their quest for Australia's first victory in this event since 1989. The host of last week's Presidents Cup -- won by the United States -- Australia has won the World Cup four times out of the 55 previous holdings.
This duo has some familiarity with one another, finishing in a share of third in 2008.
Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy, who, as team Ireland, are the likely favorites in this event, share second with Scotland (Stephen Gallacher and Martin Laird) at nine-under 63.
The U.S. team of Gary Woodland and Matt Kuchar, share fourth with the Netherlands (Robert-Jan Derksen and Joost Luiten) at eight-under. Colombia, Denmark, Spain and Germany are tied for sixth at minus-seven.
Italy's Francesco and Edoardo Molinari, the defending champions, struggled on the front nine before making a late run. They had only one birdie through the first 11 holes before making four birdies in the final seven holes to finish at five-under 67.
Green and Jones set an unreachable pace early in the round.
The pair were part of the third foursome to tee off, and they started quickly with birdies on the second and third holes.
The Australians moved to four-under around the turn after birdies at Nos. 7 and 8, and an eagle at the 12th put them at minus-six. Down the stretch, they had an incredible run, posting three birdies and an eagle from the 14th through to the 17th.
The final birdie at 17 gave them a score of 11-under, and Green and Jones finished with a par at the last to take a four-stroke lead at the time.
McIlroy and McDowell -- both major winners -- were able to cut the gap to two with an eagle and seven birdies, while Gallacher and Laird did the same with a similar scorecard.
NOTES: The United States has not won since Tiger Woods and David Duval/Mark O'Meara teamed for back-to-back titles in 1999-2000...Host nation China shot a four-under 68 and is tied for 22nd...There are 28 teams in all...Australia's 61 was well off the fourball record of 57, set in 2000 and 2002.