- Richard Green and Brendan Jones lead by two shots at World Cup of Golf
- Australians ahead of Ireland and Scotland after day one in China
- Ireland represented by U.S. Open winners Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell
- Friday will see the 28 teams compete in the foursomes format
Australia upstaged Ireland's star pairing of Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell to lead by two strokes after the opening day of the 56th World Cup of Golf in China on Thursday.
Richard Green and Brendan Jones carded an 11-under-par 61 in the fourballs session at Mission Hills Golf Club to head off the 2011 and 2010 U.S. Open champions and Scotland's Martin Laird and Stephen Gallacher.
The Australians hit seven birdies and two eagles during a superb round at the Blackstone course, as they bid to improve on their tie for third place in 2008.
"We just combined perfectly. We never doubled up on birdies, and that's the key in this game," the 36-year-old Jones told the tournament's official website. "You want to make a lot of birdies, but you don't want to make them on the same hole. That's what we did."
Despite representing their native Northern Ireland when competing as individuals, world No. 2 McIlroy and McDowell, ranked 14th, are lining up for Ireland in the two-yearly event.
McDowell is predicting a tough Friday session for all of the 28 teams as the competition switches to the foursomes format.
"The strategy changes tomorrow and is a very difficult day that it will separate the field a little bit," the 32-year-old said. "Foursomes is probably the most difficult format of golf. You've got to play a little less aggressively.
"This is a difficult golf course. You're trying to keep your partner in position. Rory and I have played it in the Ryder Cup and the Seve Trophy, and it is probably the most pressure-packed format."
The U.S. were tied with Dutch pair Joost Luiten and Robert-Jan Derksen after world No. 10 Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland shot an eight-under 64.
"We don't play that many team events in the States," admitted Kuchar, who helped the U.S. retain the Presidents Cup in Australia last weekend. "The tournaments are mostly individual stroke play.
"I think the biggest difference here is having a partner, and it allows you to be a little more aggressive. I think my role is the steady role and I'll let Gary be aggressive."
One shot further back, Colombia, Denmark, Spain and Germany were in a four-way tie for sixth position.
Colombia are represented by brothers Camilo and Manuel Villegas, with Anders Hansen and Thorbjorn Olesen lining up for Denmark.
European Tour stars Alvaro Quiros and Miguel Angel Jimenez are playing for Spain, while Germany are fielding former world No. 1 Martin Kaymer and Alex Cejka.
English duo Ian Poulter and Justin Rose shot a 66 to sit in a nine-way tie for 10th position.