BLACKWOOD’S Bradley Dredge and Michael Hendry grabbed the clubhouse lead midway through a demanding opening day at the Volvo China Open.

With greens running firm at the testing Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club, Dredge and New Zealand’s Hendry both completed four under par rounds of 68.

The pair were the only morning starters to card bogey-free rounds, and Dredge was not expecting to be far off the pace at the end of the day.

“The greens were really firm so the big thing was if you were hitting fairways you had chances,” said Dredge, a two-time European Tour winner who lost his card at the end of a disappointing 2012 season, but regained it in fine style with consecutive runner-up finishes in Denmark and the Czech Republic last year.

“It was never easy getting the ball close to the hole with slopes on the greens and the firmness; it was quite tricky round there.

“This afternoon the wind is going to get up and it will be firmer still, so I’d be surprised if four under was beaten out there – it would be some score out there to beat four."

Hendry won on the Japan Golf Tour last week, and admitted that had provided a welcome confidence boost.

“It makes the game a little easier I think,” he said. “It’s always nice to play tournaments when you’re in good form.”

Defending champion Alex Levy was one behind the leaders after a three under par, alongside fellow Frenchman Julien Quesne.

Last week’s winner Kiradech Aphibarnrat was among the later starters, but the man he beat in a play-off in Shenzhen – 19 year old Chinese sensation Li Hao-tong – was in contention again after an opening 71.

Aphibarnrat turned one over par and it was looking increasingly likely that Dredge and Hendry would remain at the top of the leaderboard at the end of the day.

Sweden's Kristoffer Broberg and England's David Howell were their nearest challengers out on the course, Broberg having carded three birdies in four holes around the turn before a bogey on the 13th and Howell also on two under after 12.