Chuan-lin Jian posted a sensational bogey-free nine under par opening round of 63 to lead after day one of the Hainan Open at Danzhou Ancient Saltern Golf Club.
The 29-year-old carded an eagle and three birdies on his front nine to make the turn at five under par, before adding four more birdies on his back nine to climb to the top of the leaderboard, three clear of amateur Wenyi Ding who occupies second place on six under.
Jian was delighted with his opening display on home turf and believes accuracy with his approach shots was paramount to keeping bogeys off the scorecard in Hainan.
“It felt good to keep a clean scorecard today,” he said. “My driver was very good and my approach shots were accurate. I missed a lot of birdie putts, and I was very rarely in danger of making bogey.
“The only hole that I missed the green on was the par three and I left myself a ten foot putt in order to save par, and I made it. That putt encouraged me a lot and gave me lots of confidence.
“The highlight of my day was the 11th/hole because my tee shot was not great, but I hit a brilliant second shot from 178 yards away. I used a six-iron and aimed down the left side, and the wind brought the ball back towards the hole and I managed to make an eagle two.”
Jian admits he has already thought about the prospect of playing in Europe next season, with the winner of the Hainan Open earning category one playing rights on the European Challenge Tour for 2024.
“I will try my best to stay on top in the next few days,” he said. “To achieve that I will need to do my best in every round and every shot. If I manage to win this week, I will seriously consider about the opportunity to play a full season on the European Challenge Tour.”
Six-time Challenge Tour winner Ricardo Gouveia, Switzerland’s Joel Girrbach, Sweden’s Jesper Svensson, Ireland’s Conor Purcell, Frenchman Frederic Lacroix and Chinese Daxing Jin share third place on five under par.
The second round will get under way at 7:10am local time, with Jian teeing it up alongside Englishman Tom Lewis and Ding at 7:30am.