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Derksen on top after 'funny day' in China Open

Robert-Jan Derksen of the Netherlands acknowledges spectators after putting on the 18th green during the third round of the Hong Kong Open g
Robert-Jan Derksen of the Netherlands acknowledges spectators after putting on the 18th green during the third round of the Hong Kong Open g

(Reuters) - Dutchman Robert-Jan Derksen fired a spectacular six-under-par 66 on a "funny day" to grab a two-shot opening round lead at the China Open on Thursday.

For someone who has not won since 2005 and is without a top-10 finish on the European Tour for over two years, Derksen's two early bogeys seemed to suggest a continuation of his wretched form.

The twice European Tour winner, however, staged a remarkable comeback, rolling in three birdies to turn in 34 and firing four more in a strong back nine.

"It was a funny day, because I started well with a birdie from about five feet, but then three-putted the third and fourth and ended up in three divots on the fairways later in the round," said Derksen.

"It's only the first day, I know, but I haven't led a tournament for quite a while, so if I can keep rolling in the putts, hopefully we could be in for a good week," said Derksen.

With three of the European Tour's last five winners lurking two shots behind, it may not be easy in the $3.2 million tournament co-sanctioned by OneAsia and the European Tour.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand, Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin and Australian Brett Rumford carded matching 68s with six players a further short back including former British Open champion Paul Lawrie.

"It was a good test for the first round back after my victory last week," said Rumford, last week's Ballantine's Champion, after a bogey-free round at Tianjin's Binhai Lake Golf Club.

"It's just a matter of 'keep doing what you're doing'."

Aphibarnrat, who won his maiden European Tour title at the Malaysian Open in March, was taking a similar approach.

"I have played well for three or four weeks in a row now, and will try to finish high up the leaderboard again this week," said the Thai who carded five birdies and a solitary bogey in his opening round.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi, editing by Ed Osmond)

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