Darren Clarke was pleased to open with a level par 72 in high winds in the Nanshan China Masters on the OneAsia Tour. Picture © OneAsia.asiaDarren Clarke was impressed by the scoring from the front runners but pleased to open with a level par 72 that left him just four shots off the pace after the opening round of the $1 million Nanshan China Masters.

The 2011 Open champion had two birdies and two bogeys in strong winds on the links-style Montgomerie Course at Nanshan International Golf Club to end the day tied for 15th place behind American rookie Eric Mina. Scores

“They’ve obviously played well and rolled the ball well,” Clarke told the OneAsia Tour’s website. “I was surprised coming up the last to see those scores. That’s a great effort. Fair play to them.

“It was tricky out there today. The wind was pumping on a few holes. Some of the par fours played exceptionally long due to the wind and there’s not much run out there, so I’m pretty pleased with level par.”

Mina, winner of OneAsia’s California Q-School in January, fired a brilliant four-under-par 68 to grab a one-shot clubhouse lead.

Play was suspended because of bad light with 14 golfers still to finish and only 14 players were under par due to the winds, including South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel (71).

After deciding to take up his PGA Tour card for the 2013-14 season, Clarke will head to the US to play two events - next week’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open from October 17-20 and The McGladrey Classic at Sea Island from November 7 - 10.