Udorn Duangdecha produced a magnificent opening round 62 to surge into the lead after an enthralling first day of the UBS Hong Kong Open in Fanling.
The 38-year-old Thai, currently enjoying his best season on the Asian Tour, fired an incredible ten birdies to rocket to the top of the leaderboard at Hong Kong Golf Club with a superlative eight under par.
Having started with a birdie on his first hole, the tenth, Duangdecha recovered from a bogey on his third to register four further birdies on his front nine.
A further avalanche of birdies followed at his tenth, 11th, 12th, 15th and 16th holes to carry him to the top of the leaderboard.
Indeed, after his birdie at the par four seventh he needed just two further birdies to achieve the magical 59 for the round. However, a par and bogey at the testing ninth, his last, saw him end on eight under.
“It was a shame to finish the round by three putting the last but I am delighted with the round,” he said.
“Everything seemed to go right for me. I feel better about my game, my fitness, sponsors and all the preparation is paying off.
“It might surprise everyone out there but I don’t think it surprised me too much. I played according to my strategy and it worked out well.”
And Duangdecha, whose colourful trousers caused him to be noticed alongside his incredible round, added: “They are my lucky pants. I always play in colourful trousers and I have enough in the wardrobe to last me all weekend so you’ll be seeing more over the next three days.”
Dutchman Robert-Jan Derksen also enjoyed a stellar round as he registered an opening seven under par 63 to sit in outright second.
Derksen, whose last victory on The European Tour came back in 2005 at the Madeira Island OpenCaxia Geral de Depositos, was indebted to a finish that saw him rifle in five birdies in his last six holes.
“I enjoyed that,” he admitted. “I didn't hit many bad shots at all, just one three putt on the 16th. Other than that, I hit all the greens and fairways and gave myself plenty of chances.”
Derksen will take a one shot advantage over a four-strong chasing pack in third that includes Grégory Bourdy, David Dixon, Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Thongchai Jaidee and defending champion Lin Wen-tang.
Jaidee and Bourdy both fired seven birdies and a bogey while Dixon and Lin went bogey-free in carding six under par 64s.
“I'm very pleased with how I played today especially with my opening two birdies that got my round under way,” Lin said.
“My swings and putts were almost perfect and I'm hoping it stays this way for the rest of the week.”
Further down the leaderboard, EMAAR-MGF Indian Masters champion SSP Chowrasia dropped his only shot at the last to join South African duo Rory Sabbatini and Charl Schwartzel in a group three shots off the pace on five under par.
The Race To Dubai candidates Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy also enjoyed solid starts as they matched each other shot for shot, ending as part of a large group on four under par.
Westwood, who currently enjoys a slender €52,321 lead over McIlroy at the top of the standings, admitted he struggled at times on the putting surfaces despite being near perfect from tee to green.
“On the greens, it is such an advantage having played a few tournaments round here so to start with a 66, I’m delighted,” said the Portugal Masters champion, who hit 17 out of 18 greens in regulation.
“The only two bogeys I made were three putts and I had a load of chances. The only green I missed was the last hole I played and that is a tough hole, number nine.”
McIlroy was similarly pleased with his efforts.
“It puts me in a good position. There's still a lot of golf to be played but it is a nice start,” he said.
“It was a very solid round, it could have been better but I will take it.”
On a memorable day for scoring, however, Jean-François Lucquin provided the highlight as he registered a hole in one at the 142 yard par three 12th during his round of 69.
The feat, achieved thanks to a perfect nine iron, also means title sponsor UBS will kindly donate US$10,000 to the event’s designated charity, Operation Santa Claus.