India’s S.S.P. Chawrasia took the early honours by carding a five-under-par 65 to take the first round lead at the UBS Hong Kong Open on Thursday.
The six-time Asian Tour winner leads by one over England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick and compatriot Shubhankar Sharma after overcoming the tricky windy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club in the morning.
Starting on the back-nine 11, Chawrasia birdied holes 11, 13, 16 and 18. He showed his accuracy again when his approach at the par five third landed within four feet of the hole where he would birdie again to move to five-under.
The Indian dropped a shot on five but recovered quickly with another birdie on nine to stay ahead of the chasing pack at the US$2 million event..
Fresh from his maiden Asian Tour win in the Philippines a fortnight ago, Korean-American Micah Lauren Shin continued to show his good form when he returned with a 67 to take a share of fourth place that includes Thailand’s Poom Saksansin and Philippines’ Angelo Que.
Malaysia’s Danny Chia also ensured a strong Asian Tour presence atop the leaderboard when he returned with a 68 to trail Chawrasia by three shots in tied-11th place that included Major winner Justin Rose of England.
Did you know?
- S.S.P. Chawrasia’s best finish at the Hong Kong Open was in 2014 when he finished tied-fifth.
- He is seeking his second win abroad following his first overseas win in the Philippines last year.
- The Indian is currently in fourth place on the Asian Tour Order of Merit and remains in contention to become the next Indian to lift the prestigious merit crown after Anirban Lahiri (2015), Jeev Milkha Singh (2006 & 2008), Arjun Atwal (2003) and Jyoti Randhawa (2002).
- Poom Saksansin is a two-time Asian Tour winner. He won his first title in Indonesia last year before injuring his back. He returned to his best form when he won the TAKE Solutions Masters in India in August.
- Earlier in his career, Poom played mostly on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) where he won once in 2015. Since then, his career has been on the upswing. He turned professional in 2013 at the age of 20 because he did not want financial support from his parents.
- Micah Lauren Shin is a Korean-American, who lives in Davao in the Philippines. His grandparents are Americans while his mother is half-American.
- Shin came through Qualifying School in 2017 and has not missed a single cut in his last 10 starts on Tour so far this season.
- Danny Chia finished tied-eighth at the UBS Hong Kong Open last year. He holds two Asian Tour wins, with his last victory coming in 2015 in Chinese Taipei.
S.S.P. Chawrasia (Ind) First round 65 (-5)
I played well today. I hit the ball well and made some nice putts. Conditions were very tough today especially with the wind and I’m very happy my five-under par today.
The greens were very firm to be honest. I was just trying to hit the second shot onto the green and get the ball as close as possible to the hole. I’ve been playing well this year and I’ve a good chance of finishing up the year well. The Order of Merit title is somewhere in the back of my mind. If I finish good here, I can catch Gavin. I don’t think about how good the other players are, whether he a world number one or not. I respect his ranking but when I’m playing, I prefer to focus on my game.
Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng) First round 66 (-4)
It’s a good start to the week. It’s not an easy course around here. Listening to Justin Rose talking after the Pro Am, he said four-under would be a good score. So yeah, I definitely take that right now and see where you end up. I hit it great tee to green. I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it’s so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day. I think hopefully today is as hard as it’s going to play. Although, if it plays like this and I shoot the same score for the next three days, I’ll be very, very happy. It’s not easy with how strong the wind is and how easy it switches direction. It’s a tough golf course without any wind, so it makes it very tricky.
Micah Lauren Shin (Usa), First round 67 (-3)
Today my putting was working pretty well. Hopefully I can hit it a little better because I haven’t been hitting it very well because I didn’t have many close birdie putts today. So hopefully I can keep putting like this. Once I hit better, I probably can make more birdies. It feels really good to play in big events like this. It’s actually a little inspiring to play with good players.
Poom Saksansin (Tha), First round 67 (-3)
It was a little bit cold and the golf course was quite firm. The greens were very slow. But I’m very happy with it because now I feel I’m in good form. But this course, I feel is difficult for me. I don’t know why. I find it difficult to get my ball into a good position on the greens. I hope I can win at least one more time this year.
Danny Chia (Mas) First round 68 (-2)
This is a golf course that suits my game. I can use a lot of mid-irons into the green and you need to hit a lot of good iron shots on a golf course like this. I didn’t hit it all that great today but my short game was good. I hit a lot of good wedges to give myself a birdie opportunity.
I think just trying to do my job on the golf course. It gets really tricky with some pin positions here, and a lot of times, you just have to look away from the pin and just try to hit the middle of the green, and I just did that today. So, I’m going to be doing the same thing throughout the week.
Sam Brazel (Aus) First round 69 (-1)
I’m happy with the finish. It was tricky out there. The wind was up early and a bit blustery, too. It was pretty strong in places. So I’m happy with the result. I’m really enjoying the week of being defending champion for obviously the first time. It’s been a bit of a buzz. The course is great. So I think it would be nice to play the next three days.
Leading scores after round 1 of the UBS Hong Kong Open Championship 2017 being played at the par 70, 6710 Yards Hong Kong GC course (am – denotes amateur):
65 – S.S.P. CHAWRASIA (IND).
66 – Matthew FITZPATRICK (ENG), Shubhankar SHARMA (IND).
67 – Thomas DETRY (BEL), Keith HORNE (RSA), Angelo QUE (PHI), Micah Lauren SHIN (USA), Jamie DONALDSON (WAL), Poom SAKSANSIN (THA), Marcus KINHULT (SWE).
68 – Julian SURI (USA), Tommy FLEETWOOD (ENG), Thongchai JAIDEE (THA), Danny CHIA (MAS), Justin ROSE (ENG), LI Haotong (CHN), Terry PILKADARIS (AUS), Wade ORMSBY (AUS).
69 – Joakim LAGERGREN (SWE), Thomas AIKEN (RSA), Robert ROCK (ENG), Sam BRAZEL (AUS), Gavin GREEN (MAS), Rafa CABRERA BELLO (ESP), Gregory HAVRET (FRA), LIN Wen-tang (TPE), Harold VARNER III (USA), Oliver FARR (WAL), Alexander BJORK (SWE), Sergio GARCIA (ESP), Khalin JOSHI (IND), Sean CROCKER (USA), Yikeun CHANG (KOR), Jinho CHOI (KOR).
70 – Shiv KAPUR (IND), Ben LEONG (MAS), Danthai BOONMA (THA), Sutijet KOORATANAPISAN (THA), Marcus FRASER (AUS), Paul PETERSON (USA), Ricardo GOUVEIA (POR), Adilson DA SILVA (BRA), Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA), Miguel Angel JIMENEZ (ESP), Miguel TABUENA (PHI), Siddikur RAHMAN (BAN).
71 – Chris HANSON (ENG), Chase KOEPKA (USA), James MORRISON (ENG), Ryan EVANS (ENG), Carlos PIGEM (ESP), Dylan FRITTELLI (RSA), Chris PAISLEY (ENG), Edoardo MOLINARI (ITA), Todd SINNOTT (AUS), Erik VAN ROOYEN (RSA), LIANG Wenchong (CHN), Paul WARING (ENG), Suradit YONGCHAROENCHAI (THA), Jeunghun WANG (KOR), Jbe KRUGER (RSA), Paul DUNNE (IRL), Scott VINCENT (ZIM), Phachara KHONGWATMAI (THA), Natipong SRITHONG (THA), Ashley CHESTERS (ENG), Bradley NEIL (SCO), Rashid KHAN (IND), Clement SORDET (FRA).