Thursday, 23 November 2017
SSP Chawrasia  (Getty Images)
SSP Chawrasia (Getty Images)

SSP Chawrasia set the clubhouse target on day one of the 2018 Race to Dubai season at the UBS Hong Kong Open.

On a morning of testing, windy conditions at Hong Kong Golf Club the Indian used his renowned accuracy to fire a five under par 65 and lead the way by one shot from England's Matthew Fitzpatrick.

A tie for third here last season laid the foundations for Tommy Fleetwood to top the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex and he was in the group at two under after a 68 alongside Danny Chia, Thongchai Jaidee and Julian Suri.

Chawrasia finished 109th in the Rankings last season but has four European Tour wins to his name while Ftitzpatrick has secured seven consecutive top 15 finishes since winning the Omega European Masters in September.

Road to Oman winner Tapio Pulkkanen had the honour of hitting the first tee-shot of the season but it was Chawrasia who got off to a quick start after teeing off on the 11th.

The two-time reigning Hero Indian Open champion birdied the 11th, 13th, 16th and 18th and when he put his approach at the par five third to four feet, he was five under.

Fitzpatrick birdied the 13th and 16th but dropped a shot on the first before reeling off a hat-trick of gains from the next.

That gave him a share of the lead when Chawrasia made a first bogey of the day on the fifth and while Fitzpatrick dropped a shot on the sixth, he picked it straight back up after a nice approach to the seventh.

Chawrasia then holed a 15-footer on the ninth to jump back into top spot on his own.

Fleetwood was playing alongside countryman Fitzpatrick and when he birdied the 11th, first and fourth he was making good progress. Bogeys on the sixth and ninth slowed him down but he birdied the tenth to stay within touching distance.

American Suri was bogey-free with birdies on the 12th and third while Thai veteran Jaidee had gains on the 11th, third, seventh and tenth to go with dropped shots on the 12th and sixth.

Malaysia's Chia birdied the 13th, 17th, fourth and seventh, adding bogeys on the 12th and 18th.

Alexander Björk, Ashley Chesters, Jamie Donaldson, Oliver Farr, Wade Ormsby, Terry Pilkadaris and Erik van Rooyen were all playing their first nine at two under.

Defending champion Sam Brazel and Ryder Cup star Rafa Cabrera Bello were among a group of nine players in the clubhouse at one under.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1ORMSBY, WadeAUS18-11
T2SURI, JulianUSA18-10
T2BJÖRK, AlexanderSWE18-10

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