Hansen leads Wood by one

Updated: September 10, 2009, 1:54 PM ET
Reuters

COLOGNE, Germany - Former winner Soren Hansen of Denmark fired a 7-under-par 65 on Thursday to lead the Mercedes Masters by a stroke.

Hansen, the 2007 champion at Gut Larchenhof, picked up four shots in his last six holes with an eagle and two birdies, to edge in front of British youngster Chris Wood.

"I want my trophy back," Hansen told reporters after his first round, which he called "silly-easy".

Last year's Ryder Cup debutant is on course to pick up 320,000 Cup points and also to vault into Europe's money-list (Race to Dubai) top 15, who will share a $7.5 million bonus pool at the end of the season.

"I've been in the top 15 for the last two years and it's even more important this year to be there," said Hansen, currently 19th on the money-list.

"And two years ago, winning here was the platform for qualifying for the Ryder Cup, so I hope it's going to be the same again."

Wood, 21, took another step toward his maiden European Tour title. He came under the golfing spotlight by winning the silver medal for top amateur in the 2008 British Open, finishing fifth behind winner Padraig Harrington at Royal Birkdale, England.

This year in the same major, Wood, now playing as a professional, did even better, finishing third, and only just missed out on the playoff between champion Stewart Cink and runner-up Tom Watson.

Since his July major adventure, Wood has been treading water on the European Tour. But on Thursday he found his British Open form with a run of four birdies in five holes from the 11th.

South African James Kingston, Australian Scott Strange and Britain's Ross Fisher and David Drysdale, lie third after 67s. Briton Lee Westwood, trying to make up ground from his fourth place on the European money-list, is five shots adrift of Hansen.

Bernhard Langer's hopes of being the tour's oldest winner revived as the 52-year-old German two-time Masters winner picked up four strokes in the last six holes for a 71.