Hong Kong: Jyoti Randhawa played a brilliant back nine to card a first round of six-under 64 and take a share of the lead at the $2 million UBS Hong Kong Open at the Fanling Country Club here on Thursday.
The 34-year-old Indian began sedately with four pars and a bogey on the fifth hole, but then went into overdrive and had seven birdies between the seventh and 18th holes.
Randhawa, who led for the first half of the HSBC Champions before fading away on the final day and ending tied ninth last week in Shanghai, shared the top position with Spaniard Jose Manuel Lara who had a bogey-free round.
Jeev Milkha Singh, leader on the UBS Asian Tour Order of Merit, had a great start with a four-under 66 that gave him a share of sixth place with four others.
Liang Wenchong of China, Graeme Storm of England and Gregory Bourdy of France were tied third at five-under.
Sensational back nine
Storm played a sensational back nine, which was actually his first nine, with six birdies in a row from 11th to 16th, before he bogeyed three in a row from the 17th through 18th and first. He ended with a 65.
Of the other Indians in the field, Rahil Gangjee and Gaurav Ghei shot even par 70 each and were tied 59th. Both had four birdies, two bogeys and one double bogey each.
Harmeet Kahlon had two birdies and five and was lying tied 115th, while S.S.P. Chowrasia shot two birdies and four bogeys in 74 and was tied 125th.
Chowrasia was in danger of missing his first cut this season and to avoid that he needs to shoot a good low score on the second day.
Also in danger of missing the cut is marquee name, K.J. Choi, who shot one-over 71 as did Simon Dyson and Paul McGinley. They were all tied 83rd.
Daniel Chopra playing in Asia for the first time this year was tied 104th after a round of two-over 72.
Randhawa, who had expressed disappointment at not being able to close the win in HSBC where he led for the first half of the event and had a good chance going into the final day, opened with sedate pars on first four holes.
Then came a bogey. He followed that up with another par on sixth and then went birdie-birdie on the next two holes. He turned in one-under.
On the back nine, he was on fire with five birdies and no bogeys. He birdied the 10th and 12th and then added two more on the 14th and 15th, before closing with a final birdie on the 18th for a day's work of 64.
``I struck the ball well and it was good even on the greens,'' said Randhawa.
Jeev had a birdie on the fifth and bogey on the ninth for an even par front nine.
Between the 11th and 15th, Jeev went on a birdie spree with four birdies and then dropped a shot on the 17th. But a birdie on 18th put him back on track.
``That was a good start, but it could have been better. However I am not complaining,'' said Jeev, whose closest rival in the race for the UBS Asian Tour Order of Merit, Prom Meesawat had a none-too-happy start at one-under 69, which placed him 42nd. PTI