A bogey on the final hole denied Antoine Rozner a blemish-free opening round at the Hainan Open but he will nevertheless take a commanding two-stroke lead into day two after carding a seven under par round of 65.
The Frenchman, who has won twice on the Road to Mallorca this season, began his quest for a third victory of 2019 on the tenth tee at Sanya Luhuitou Golf Club and made five birdies prior to the turn before three more gains and that single bogey arrived on the back nine.
Rozner was one of the tournament’s early starters and no one was able to match his target as the day elapsed, with Matthew Jordan posting a bogey-free 67 to sit in second place, while Damien Perrier, Benjamin Poke and late finisher Josh Geary are a stroke further back on four under par after opening rounds of 68.
The Open de España and Prague Golf Challenge champion acknowledged the quality of his play in China, but also admitted to getting a bit of luck along the way.
“It was great,” he said. “It was just one of those days where I hit a lot of good shots, a lot of good putts and made very few mistakes.
“When I did have a mistake, I got a good bounce and saved par. I got some good reads and it was one of those days where everything just went right.
“I played great and I think if I can keep playing like this for the next three days, I should be in pretty good shape.”
The 26-year-old’s undoubted highlight was a tricky downhill birdie putt from 25 feet on the fourth hole, which he was delighted to convert for a superb up-and-down from the bunker.
“I hit a good drive into the reachable par four and I was in the bunker with an uphill lie,” he said. “It was quite a long bunker shot, so it wasn’t easy and I left it short.
“The putt was really, really fast and I was just looking to put it around the hole, to be honest. It ended up going in, so it was definitely the highlight of the day.”
With temperatures peaking at 33° Celsius in Hainan, Rozner is keeping a keen focus on maintaining his energy levels ahead of the second round.
“I’m not going to waste much energy on the range,” he said. “It’s quite exhausting out there because the wind is swirling and it’s very hot.
“Saving energy is going to be key this week so I’ve got to be careful by staying hydrated and getting some good nights of sleep.”
New Zealand’s Geary came closest to matching Rozner’s total but two bogeys in his final three holes dropped him back into a tie for third, one shot clear of eight players on three under par including Zhang Jin and Xiao Bowen, who are currently the leading Chinese players.
The second round will begin at 7.10am local time, with Rozner returning to the tee at 12.10pm.