Jyoti Randhawa finished with a flourish to claim a one shot lead over Angelo Que after the first round of the Hong Kong Open, where Nicolas Colsaerts’ excellent recent form continued.
India’s Randhawa stormed home in a five under 31 for a six under par 64 at Hong Kong Golf Club, one ahead of Filipino Que, a three-time winner on the co-sanctioning Asian Tour.
“For me it’s really awesome,” said Randhawa, who fired his approach to five feet at the 17th and sank a 15 footer at the last for consecutive closing birdies.
“Today I really putted my heart out so I’m very happy with the way it went.”
Big-hitting Colsaerts, who finished fourth in Wales and second in Portugal on his last two starts, carded five birdies and a single bogey in his four under par 66 to sit third in a large group tied for third that also includes four-time Major Champion Ernie Els.
After turning two under par, former Ryder Cup star Colsaerts bogeyed the long third after driving into trees down left, his ball finishing in a puddle from where he could only hack across the fairway into more rough.
But that set-back seemed to spur the Belgian, who holed putts of 20 and 30 feet on the next two for birdie, and a superb tee shot to the eighth set up a tap-in gain.
“You need to play well to shoot any sort of score under par,” said Colsaerts. “From tee to green you need to be pretty good to leave yourself birdie chances.
“I’m quite happy with my score.
“I’m waking up in the middle of the night – I didn’t do a very good job with the jetlag so I think I’m going to be waking up early most of the week but it’s fine.”
Els - making his tournament debut - started with a bogey, but six birdies along with a further dropped shot on the 15th saw the South African round in four under, along with compatriot Jbe Kruger, England’s James Heath, Taiwan’s Lu Wei-chih, Korean Baek Seuk-hyun, Spain’s Nacho Elvira, France’s Raphaël Jacquelin and Dutchman Daan Huizing.
“I kept it together for the most part and had quite a few opportunities,” said Els, who turns 45 on Friday. “I’m quite pleased with that, obviously.
“The players who have won here is like a who’s who of golf – but I don’t want to think about that. Let’s concentrate on tomorrow and take it from there.”
With only this event and next week’s ISPS HANDA Perth International left for players to climb into the top 110 on The Race to Dubai and keep their cards, Elvira, Heath and Huizing – who started the week 122nd, 153rd and 135th respectively - all boosted their chances of retaining their playing privileges.
Defending champion Miguel Angel Jiménez, looking to win this tournament for a record fifth time, shot a two over par 72.