Matt Fitzpatrick led the European charge on day one of the UBS Hong Kong Open after a testing day in swirling, gusting winds at the Hong Kong Golf Club.
The 23 year old put on typically strong display of ball-striking as he carded an opening four under par 66 to lie just one shot off the lead set by India’s SSP Chawrasia.
Chawrasia and Fitzpatrick’s first round efforts were played in the toughest conditions of the day before the Englishman was joined by Chawrasia’s countryman Shubhankar Sharma on four under.
Belgium’s Thomas Detry and Welshman Jamie Donaldson are in a seven-man tie for fourth place on three under, while the two main protagonists in last week’s thrilling finish the to the 2017 Race to Dubai – Europe’s new Number One Tommy Fleetwood and Olympic Champion Justin Rose – continued their fine form by posting matching 68s to move to two under.
Fleetwood finished third on his debut here last season, while Rose won the tournament in 2015.
Masters Champion Sergio Garcia, making his debut in the UBS Hong Kong Open, bogeyed his final hole of the day but was generally satisfied with a level par 70 in his first competitive round at the notoriously difficult Hong Kong Golf Club.
Matt Fitzpatrick: “It’s a good start to the week. It’s not an easy course around here and I hit the ball great from tee to green. I think I had 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, it was a good day.
“We had a bit of a crowd with us which was great. People are going to be following Tommy seeing as he won The Race to Dubai last week. I always enjoy playing with him – I played with Tommy in my first start as a pro so we have known each other for quite some time and it’s always good to play with him.”
SSP Chawrasia: “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.”
Tommy Fleetwood: “That was a really tough, difficult morning of golf. I think the course is brilliant but once you start getting out of position out there, especially in this kind of wind, it makes it so difficult. I hit it pretty well and put myself in position a lot and gave myself a few chances. Everything felt good today which is always a nice feeling to have when conditions are so tough.”
Justin Rose: “It was an interesting round. I made five birdies today and all of them were from around two feet. I stuffed it in there five times but didn’t really make putts of any distance. That was as tough as I have played this golf course today. It was very tricky and at this time of day, the greens get a little tough to read. They get grainy. It was a shame to miss the par putt in the last but other than that I am quite pleased with two under and a steady start.”
Round one scores:
65 S Chawrasia (Ind);
66 S Sharma (Ind); M Fitzpatrick (Eng);
67 K Horne (RSA); M Kinhult (Swe); T Detry (Bel); P Saksansin (Tha); A Que (Phi); J Donaldson (Wal); M Shin (USA);
68 T Jaidee (Tha); W Ormsby (Aus); L Haotong (Chn); D Chia (Mas); T Fleetwood (Eng); J Suri (USA); J Rose (Eng); T Pilkadaris (Aus);
69 G Havret (Fra); R Rock (Eng); J Lagergren (Swe); W Lin (Tpe); K Joshi (Ind); S Crocker (USA); A Björk (Swe); S Garcia (Esp); H Varner Iii (USA); J Choi (Kor); Y Chang (Kor); O Farr (Wal); G Green (Mas); T Aiken (RSA); R Cabrera Bello (Esp); S Brazel (Aus);
70 A Da Silva (Bra); S Kapur (Ind); M Jiménez (Esp); M Tabuena (Phi); B Leong (Mas); M Fraser (Aus); S Kooratanapisan (Tha); K Aphibarnrat (Tha); S Rahman (Ban); R Gouveia (Por); P Peterson (USA); D Boonma (Tha);
71 P Waring (Eng); J Wang (Kor); L Wenchong (Chn); D Frittelli (RSA); B Neil (Sco); P Khongwatmai (Tha); E Molinari (Ita); S Vincent (Zim); C Sordet (Fra); C Hanson (Eng); J Kruger (RSA); C Paisley (Eng); S Yongcharoenchai (Tha); E Van Rooyen (RSA); C Koepka (USA); R Khan (Ind); R Evans (Eng); C Pigem (Esp); N Srithong (Tha); T Sinnott (Aus); J Morrison (Eng); P Dunne (Irl); A Chesters (Eng);
72 J Janewattananond (Tha); R Wannasrichan (Tha); S Brown (Eng); P Widegren (Swe); P Swangarunporn (Tha); D Im (USA); H Tanihara (Jpn); P Oriol (Esp); M Mamat (Sin); M Kumar (Ind); R Karlsson (Swe); C Hung (Tpe); O Fisher (Eng); J Singh (Ind); M Manassero (Ita); L Weber (Fra); S Chien (USA); J Randhawa (Ind); L D’Souza (am) (Hkg);
73 S Hend (Aus); C O’Toole (USA); C S (Ind); A Cañizares (Esp); T Wiratchant (Tha); P Tangkamolprasert (Tha); P Pittayarat (Tha); N Bertasio (Ita); L Jensen (Den); D Drysdale (Sco); A Lascuna (Phi); A Rai (Eng); W Lu (Tpe);
74 P Meesawat (Tha); C Kumar (Ind); Z Lianwei (Chn); W Ashun (Chn); J Veerman (USA); G Bhullar (Ind); A Kang (USA); A Atwal (Ind);
75 S Barr (Aus); S Lee (Kor); D Lipsky (USA); G Bourdy (Fra); D Howell (Eng); S Fernandez (Esp); S Chan (Tpe); N Fung (Mas); R Gangjee (Ind); A Connelly (Can); M Cheung (am) (Hkg);
76 J Stewart (Hkg); J Campillo (Esp); T Kho (am) (Hkg);
77 A Plant (Eng); J Dantorp (Swe); T Pulkkanen (Fin); J Colomo (Esp);
78 W Wong (Hkg);
79 J Shou (am) (Sin);
80 R Lee (Can); D Brooks (Eng);
82 T Kaewsiribandit (Tha);