Im leads charge in 'horrendous' conditions

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 March, 2010, 12:00am

American Daniel Im said it all when asked to describe the weather conditions for yesterday's opening round of the Volvo China Open international qualifying at Discovery Bay: 'Horrendous'.

Gale-force winds, driving rain and a sub-10 degree Celsius temperature hounded the players throughout the morning. Although the rain eased off during the late afternoon, the bitterly cold wind kept the players company.

Im, who lives in La Mirada, California, shot a best-of-the-day three-over-par 75, but said he could have scored better.

'Despite the weather I hit the ball really well and holed some good putts at crucial times,' said Im, 24. 'I hit my tee shot out of bounds on the seventh, but other than that I kept things very much under control.'

Im is familiar with the challenging 6,775-yard Discovery Bay course, having qualified there two years ago to win a place at CBD Golf Club in Beijing where he missed the halfway cut by just one shot.

'I three-putted the final green at CBD from about 10 feet to miss by one, so if I make it to Suzhou next month I plan to go one better this time,' said Im, who plays mostly on the Canadian Tour.

Three players share second place on five-over 78, including England's Mark Giles and Singapore-based Australian Scott Barr, who birdied the par-five 18th to end his round on a high note. Barr is a member of the Asian Tour, but said a dispensation had been given to Asian Tour members for the qualifier and also for the China Open, which is co-sanctioned by rival OneAsia and the European Tour. It will be played at Jinji Lake International Golf Club near Suzhou.

Hong Kong's James Stewart was joint leader with Im until he came to the final two holes, where he dropped three shots. 'Reading the wind was a complete puzzle as it seemed to be in your face on every shot,' Stewart said. 'I hit a perfect drive down the middle of the fairway on the last and ended up with a double bogey. It was a disappointing way to finish.'

The leading four players from today's final round will win a place in the US$2.5 million China Open to be played April 15 to 18.