'I have never played in conditions like that ... it's such a difference' They came all the way from Great Britain and Scandinavia and none of them had seen anything quite like it. A cold front arrived yesterday and the Volvo China Open field nearly froze to death. 'Give me Scotland any day,' said one European Tour regular as players grabbed whatever clothing they had and adorned beanies to fight off the icy blasts. At the end of a bone-chilling day Welshman Stephen Dodd held a three-stroke lead in the US$1 million event at Silport Golf Club. He would never have imagined that after arriving at the course at 6.15am - hitting one wedge and three six-irons on the range - he would give up because of the cold. 'I have never played in conditions like that,' he said after braving freezing rain and biting winds over the front nine in temperatures of around two degrees Celsius. 'It's such a difference from yesterday.' It was at least a 10 degrees swing, something most of the players encountered on their scores. Amazingly, Dodd scored best in the worst conditions, going out in a three-under 33 and then coming home in 37 for a two-under-par 70 and a 138 total. He leads a group of three. Perhaps more amazing was that the only score in the 60s was posted by a Thai, Chawalit Plaphol, who turned in a 69 for a two-round 144, six shots behind Dodd. 'I'm just pleased with a 70,' said Dodd, who finished 58th on the money list on the 2004 European Tour. 'We're halfway through the tournament and there are a lot of good players out there. At least I won't be off at 6.15am tomorrow.' The forecast is for similar weather today. Paul Lawrie, the 1999 British Open champion, said: 'It was the coldest I had ever encountered on the European Tour'. His game was also cold as he ballooned to a 78 to be 11 strokes off the pace at 149. 'I would have loved a woolly hat.' Unfortunately for the Scotsman, the only ones available had the wrong branding. The three closest challengers to Dodd were Korean Chung Joon, leading the Asian Tour charge, England's Matthew King and Dane Soren Hansen, who was playing with a hairline fracture of the last finger in his left hand. Chung shot an even-par 72, Hansen 71 and King 73. Pre-tournament favourite Thomas Bjorn stayed in touch in the opening event on the European Tour's 2005 international schedule, shooting a 72 to be five off the pace. 'It was tough out there so level par is a good score. I had it going for a while as I was two under after 10 holes and then made some mistakes,' said Bjorn. 'But you're going to make bogeys in these conditions. In the last five or six holes, it was just a question of trying to get quickly into the clubhouse without any more mistakes. It leaves me in the tournament and that's the important thing. 'I couldn't believe how cold it was. When you stay on the 70th floor in a building in Shanghai you can't make out the weather. You think it's all right but when I got outside, it was cold.' Chung joined Dodd at six under through 12 holes but stumbled with three late bogeys. 'It's hard to play in those conditions. I had a good start but couldn't keep it going. But I'm still very much in it,' he said. Hansen said he would rather have been somewhere else than at Silport yesterday. 'I think I would prefer to play back home,' he said, despite finishing on a high with two birdies. Hansen hurt his finger playing basketball last week and is playing with the end of his glove cut away. 'I'm supposed to be keeping the finger straight but it is hard moving the club that way. The doctor said I could play if I wanted to. It's the small movements that hurt. It's not quite gripping the way I want to. I'm due to play next week in Hong Kong, so hopefully it's warmer.' Co-overnight leader Welshman Bradley Dredge slipped into a tie for fifth place after a 75, while Unho Park of Australia, who was tied with Dredge, lost his way with an 80.