Recap of the day
Playing for the first time since his muted display at the Ryder Cup, Patrick Reed came out all guns blazing and roared to the top of the leaderboard with an 8-under-par 32-32=64 to open up a two-shot lead over fellow Americans Xander Schauffele and Tony Finau. The Euros made an impact too though with Matt Fitzpatrick (67) and Rafa Cabera Bello (68) just in behind while three of Thomas Bjorn’s triumphant team from Le Golf National – Tommy Fleetwood (68), Justin Rose (69) and Ian Poulter (69) - also ended day one in the top ten. Kiradech Aphibarnrat and C.T. Pan added an Asian presence with 69s of their own. Not everyone handled the windy conditions, with several of the big names struggling as you can see below. Scoring on each nine was virtually identical – 36.142 (front) and 36.143 (back) leading to an average of 72.285.
Friday weather forecast
Sunshine and temps in the 70s again and we’re in for more wind, especially in the afternoon when it could pick up to around 15mph. Early tee-times help but the last few groups will have to play more holes in it.
Leaders after 18 holes
Patrick Reed (64) – Superb ball-striking from the Masters champ as he hit 12 of the 14 fairways and pelted every single green to beat the 65 he opened with here in 2015.
Tony Finau (66) – Another week, another leaderboard with Finau’s name on it. One better than his first-round 67 here on debut in 2017 (finished T11). Seven birdies and scrambled well (80%) after hitting 13 greens.
Xander Schauffele (69) – Like Reed, a card with no blemishes. He took a different route though, finding just half the fairways and hitting only 12 greens. 100% Scrambling and a hot putter.
Fate of the favorites
Dustin Johnson (74) – DJ has a W, a second and a fifth here but all after good starts. The only time he didn’t break par on day one (2016), a 74 led to T35. Today’s 74 featured four bogeys and a double and his long game was completely off (just five fairways and ten greens).
Brooks Koepka (72) – Most unlikely scorecard of the day: 16 pars, one birdie, one bogey. Hit 14 greens but putter stone cold (nearly two putts per GIR).
Justin Rose (69) – While some of his big-name rivals struggled, Rose was solid. Found 10 fairways and 14 greens, making six birdies against two bogeys.
Patrick Reed (64): “I feel like I’ve done a lot of good work, especially with the driver and 3-wood. The driver was under full control today and I was able to hit a lot of fairways and because of that I was able to hit a lot of greens.”
Xander Schauffele (66): “Saved a few. I made a really long par putt early in the round, so I easily could have been over par. We sort of hung in there and gave ourselves some more looks coming down the stretch. It was nice to stay bogey-free early and sort of hold on at the end.”
Tony Finau (66): “I played good. It played tough … I felt like the wind was up on the front nine, which was the back nine. I made a couple bombs, which was really kind of the story of the day, which kept the momentum up for me through my round. It's the longest golf course I've ever played. Only my second time back but I don't remember a lot of these holes playing nearly this long.”
Road to victory at Sheshan
2017 Justin Rose – R1: 6th, R2: 3rd, R3: 4th
2016 Hideki Matsuyama – R1: 3rd, R2: 1st, R3: 1st
2015 Russell Knox – R1: 9th, R2: 2nd, R3: 1st
2014 Bubba Watson – R1: 19th, R2: 3rd, R3: 3rd
2013 Dustin Johnson – R1: 8th, R2: 1st, R3: 1st
Notes: Exact positions have varied after day one but there’s some real consistency in the strokes behind the leader stats with all of the last eight winners within two to four shots inclusive after day one. Only Phil Mickelson has come from further back (five strokes in 2009). Those currently two to four back? Finau, Schauffele, Fitzpatrick, Horschel, Fleetwood, Cabrera Bello, Aphibarnrat, Pan.
Fate of the R1 leaders at Sheshan
2017 Brooks Koepka 2nd
2016 Rikard Karlberg 19th
2015 Branden Grace 5th
2014 Graeme McDowell 3rd
2013 Rory McIlroy 6th
Notes: It’s a poor conversion rate with only Francesco Molinari in 2010 pulling off the feat of leading after round one and going on to lift the trophy. Five of the last six Thursday leaders have gone on to finish in the top six.
Focus on – Patrick Reed
It didn’t go well for Reed before, during or after the Ryder Cup as he became one of the central figures in the ugly fallout from the heavy defeat in Paris. The Augusta hero admitted he simply took a few days off, fine-tuned some things with his coach and set new goals to finish off the year. It’s all had a positive effect so far. First-round leaders and other fast starters have a poor record in this event so Reed has some history to overcome, including some of his own. He opened with a 65 here three years ago before settling for T7 while 12 months ago a R1 66 put him in the top four after day one before he ballooned to T50 at the finish following weekend scores of 82-74. However, don’t for one moment think he’s a poor front-runner. Reed has turned three of his four first-round leads on the PGA TOUR into victories while he closed out his Masters win after taking the lead on day two.
Focus on – Asian Swing
A quiz question: What do leader Patrick Reed, Tony Finau (T2) and Matt Fitzpatrick (third) have in common? There are probably a few correct answers but the one I’m thinking of here is that three of the current top four after round one didn’t play the first two events on the Asian Swing. In terms of starting fast this week, it makes sense to think that players who had acclimatized in either Malaysia or South Korea would have an advantage but it wasn’t the reality. Flight time from Jeju Island (CJ Cup) to Shanghai is just 1hr 25 so those who played last week really did have it easy. Lesson: Locality logic can often be flawed.