China Open tight at the top

The first round of the European Tour Volvo China Open finished with three players tied for first place on the leader board on four-under.

Wales’ Bradley Dredge and New Zealand’s Michael Hendry shot perfect rounds in the morning, with four birdies each, to finish on 68.

England’s David Howell then matched the score when overcame blustery conditions to shoot five birdies and a bogey during the afternoon.

Dredge, a two time winner on the European Tour, said the Shanghai Pudong Golf Club was trickier than first expected.

“The greens were really firm so the big thing was if you were hitting fairways you had chances,” Dredge told the European Tour website.

“It was never easy getting the ball close to the hole with slopes on the greens and the firmness; it was quite tricky round there.”

Howell, a five time-winner on the Tour, has been in good form of late, finishing second in the Johannesburg Open in March and fourth at the Shenzen International last week.

He said this week’s event offered a “really different test” to Shenzen, even though both are hosted in China.

“We knew it was firm in practice, but it was hard to work out how difficult it was going to be. The scoring shows people are finding it tricky,” he said.

“I drove the ball beautifully today, really found my rhythm on the range and took it out onto the course so I kept the ball in play well and did a lot of things right.

“There was a decent breeze out there, but really it’s the firmness of the greens that is making it difficult for everyone. The greens are in great condition and you’ve really got to think your way round.”

Howell, Hendry and Dredge lead by a single shot, with Australia’s Marcus Fraser, and Frenchmen Julien Quesne and Alexander Levy tied for fourth on three-under.

Levy is the defending champion at the event. Meanwhile, eight players trail by a shot and are tied for seventh.