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Golf: Rikard Karlberg grabs early lead at HSBC Championship

October 28, 2016 GMT

Rikard Karlberg made his World Golf Championships debut with an 8-under 64 on Thursday to take a one-shot lead over Rickie Fowler at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

Karlberg has only faced a field this strong twice before in the British Open, both times missing the cut. He wanted to treat this like any other event, and on a soggy Sheshan International course, he made it look easy.

Karlberg was 9-under through 16 holes and challenging the course record when he came up short on the par-3 17th, nearly in a hazard, and managed to save par.

He wasn’t so fortunate on the par-5 closing hole after driving into a bunker. He caught too much sand, couldn’t reach the green with his third and took his only bogey.

Russell Knox won his first WGC event last year at Sheshan International, and Karlberg at least took a good opening step in that direction.

“It felt amazing, every part of the game,” Karlberg said. “Everything was so easy. It was just one of those days, a walk in the park.”

It was a wet walk. The course was soaked with five inches of rain over the weekend, another downpour Wednesday cut short the pro-am and most of the opening round was played in a light rain that make the greens bumpy toward the end of the round.

Fowler, in his first competitive round since the Ryder Cup, holed a 15-foot birdie putt on his final hole for a 65 that had him thinking about an HSBC sweep. He won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in January, so far his only victory this year.

Fowler was particularly efficient on the par 5s, reaching two of them in two shots for eagle chances and leaving a simple up-and-down on the 14th hole for another birdie. He also chipped in from just off the green on the 17th.

Knox, Daniel Berger and Hideki Matsuyama were at 66.

Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson never got anything going. McIlroy had a 71, while Johnson struggled to hit fairways and made only one birdie in a 74.

STREELMAN IN FRONT: Kevin Streelman shot a 9-under 63 in nearly ideal conditions to take the first-round lead at the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Miss.

Streelman, 37, had 10 birdies, including eight in an 11-hole stretch, at Jackson Country Club.

Trey Mullinax, Seamus Power and Carl Pettersson were tied for second at 65. Seven others, including Lucas Glover and Camilo Villegas, were three back of the lead.

Wyckoff native Morgan Hoffmann shot 77 and was 5-over.

Streelman is a two-time PGA Tour winner, with his last victory in 2014 at the Travelers Championship. Defending champion Peter Malnati shot a 71.

LANGER HURTING: Bernhard Langer has a left knee injury that he said may force him to withdraw from the PowerShares QQQ Championship, the inaugural Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs event today in Thousand Oaks, Calif.