Francesco Molinari ran off four straight birdies toward the end of his round Thursday for a 7-under 65 to take the lead in the HSBC Champions and take some of the spotlight off the battle for the No. 1 ranking.
Lee Westwood, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were all in the mix, though. In his first tournament as No.
1, Westwood played to his ranking. He made birdie on some of the toughest holes at Sheshan International, and his only bogey came at the seventh when he had a clump of mud on his ball in the fairway.
He shot 66. Woods was right behind after a 68, which included one unlikely par.
From behind the bushes with sprigs in front of his ball, he carved out a 4-iron to just left of the green on the 15th, then jumped into contention with three straight birdies. He had a 68.
Defending champion Phil Mickelson, at No. 4 in the ranking, shot a 69.