McGrane off to fast start in Beijing

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Early bird Damien McGrane putted like a dream to sit on the coat-tails of leader Michael Lorenzo-Vera of France in the Volvo China Open.

The former Wexford club professional got up at 4.45 am but took advantage of the his early start by taking just 24 putts in a four-under par 68 that left him in a seven-way share of second place at the CBD International course.

McGrane said: "I played well today. There are a lot of good holes out there and the greens are difficult, so my putting was good.

"I holed crucial par putts and any of the birdie putts I should have holed, I got them. So that was the key to my round.

"The pin positions are tight and the greens are sloping. You could play nice golf and struggle to make ends meet out there. But I was very patient and just kept trying to give myself birdie chances and not take on too much. Four under is a good start."

Lorenzo-Vera's 67 left him clear of McGrane, England's Zane Scotland, Richard Finch and Simon Griffiths, Holland's Joost Luiten, American Jason Knutzon and China's Li Chao.
The last two regular events on the circuit have been won by French players - Thomas Levet winning the Andalucia Open and Gregory Bourdy capturing the Portuguese Open - and Lorenzo-Vera admits he has taken inspiration from the form of two of his compatriots.
"That is a lot of motivation of course, but we will see,'' said Lorenzo-Vera.
"They have been on the Tour much longer than me but if I continue to play well then you never know.
"However, I am not talking about winning at the moment. We will see on Sunday night.''
Defending champion Markus Brier of Austria was four strokes off the lead after a 71 with tournament favorite Graeme McDowell taking 73.

But Gary Murphy (75) and Peter Lawrie (79) failed to cope with the greens in the event jointly sanctioned by the European and Asian tours.