Dongguan (China): Jeev Milkha Singh, using a third putter in as many weeks, continued to struggle on the greens as he managed only a level par 72 on the opening day of the WGC-HSBC Champions, here on Thursday.
Jeev had two birdies against two bogeys at the Mission Hills Golf Clubs Olazabal course to end the day in tied 34th place in the USD 7 million tournament.
Jeev`s compatriot and the man in form, Gaganjeet Bhullar carded one-over 73 and further down in 46th place.
Louis Oosthuizen and Adam Scott produced sparkling golf to charge to the top of the leaderboard after round one. The South African and Australian ? both runners-up in Major Championships this year ? carded rounds of seven-under-par 65 to share pole position.
Jeev, who won the Scottish Open in July, kept burning the edges of the cup to end the day seven shots back but he remains patient and reckons the birdies will soon drop.
"It all comes down to the short stick. I`m hitting the ball well enough to do that. I hit the ball really well. I am just trying to get my short game going. I`ve changed my putter last three weeks three times. I`ll just have to make sure I`ve got the right one. I’ve got to work on it mentally and build up on the trust," he said.
Jeev, who is without his regular caddie Janet Squire third week, has tried the longer putters but did not feel comfortable enough with it to keep it in his golf bag.
"There is a score out there and the par fives are reachable. There are some good flags out there and the winds are swirling. It`s a good test of golf. I`ve been pretty solid. Most of the rounds, I`ve been under par. I just need a low one."
Bhullar, who did not have the privilege of playing a practice round due to his late arrival for the HSBC Champions, struggled to a 73. Like Singh, he failed to convert several birdie opportunities.
Bhullar, who has won twice this year said, "I struggled a bit with my putting. Maybe I wasn’t comfortable reading the lines. I struck the ball good, hit all fairways. I guess today was my first official round on the golf course. At least I have seen where to place the ball and hopefully tomorrow will be better."
Former Open champion Oosthuizen had seven birdies in his round including a 15-foot effort on his final hole of the day, the par five ninth.
That looked good enough for the first round lead until Scott hit a stunning second shot to 12 feet at the same par five and sank the resulting eagle putt.
Watson and another left-handed American who owns three Green Jackets, Phil Mickelson, are joined by last week’s BMW Masters champion Peter Hanson and Shane Lowry in third place on six under par.
Oosthuizen, whose two European Tour wins this season include victory in Malaysia a week after his Augusta heartbreak, admitted he had not expected to get off to such a good start.