Barr rekindles love-affair with Macau

Thu 17 Oct 2013

Barr rekindles love-affair with Macau

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Macau, October 17: Australian Scott Barr battled to a three-under-par 68 for the early first round lead at a wind-swept Venetian Macau Open on Thursday as he renewed his love affair with the US$800,000 Asian Tour tournament.
Barr produced a measured performance at the par-71 Macau Golf and Country Club, shooting four birdies against a lone bogey to lead by one from Chinese veteran Zhang Lian-wei, a two-time champion here, and another Aussie, Marcus Both.
India’s Jeev Milkha Singh and Sujjan Singh showed a welcome return to form with matching 70s to tie Chinese Taipei’s Lu Wei-chih, who is on the comeback trail after recovering from a brain tumour surgery last year.
Four-time Major champion Ernie Els fought back from being four-over after seven holes to sign for a level par 71 as only seven players in the morning session broke par when winds threw players off course.
Zhang Lian-wei of China Zhang Lian-wei of China
“Yeah, I played well,” said Barr. “Had a couple of chances on my back nine but I couldn’t get it in. Hit the ball good enough and made some up and downs early in the round and kept it going. The ball wasn’t flying early this morning.
“It was very windy, very dark and murky. I knew it was going to be tough. I have played here a lot and I get the idea of the wind and what to hit. Today, I drove the ball great and put it in play which is half the battle here.”
Exactly 10 years ago, Barr came agonisingly close to winning a first Asian Tour title in the Macau Open which then featured Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie. He had a birdie putt on the 72nd hole to win the event but his attempt horse-shoed out of the hole and he subsequently lost in the play-off to Montgomerie.
“It’s a long time ago. I thought about it this week. Obviously I played well back then. I horse-shoed the last hole. The pin was about the same spot today and I know what that does. (Barr birdied the 18th hole today).
“It’s history, this week is the priority,” said the Singapore-based Barr, who is still seeking the elusive first victory.
Currently 32nd on the Order of Merit, Barr hopes to finally breakthrough at the Venetian Macau Open, which is celebrating its 15th edition.
“My game has been pretty good. I just haven’t been scoring well. I’ve been making cuts and just been running in the pack. The game is sort of there. Today, I worked on a few things like the pitching and it feels alright. It’s a long way to go. I’m not sure what the forecast is going to be but if it stays like this, I’m actually looking forward to it,” he said.
The 48-year-old Zhang, winner in Macau in 2001 and 2002, was delighted to be amongst the frontrunners after carding four birdies against two dropped shots.
“Today was very difficult, not just for me but for all players. I’m happy with a two-under-par start. The wind made it difficult. You have to control your distance and try to keep the ball on the fairway. Sometimes, the ball goes this way but after you hit the ball, it goes another way,” said Zhang.
Jeev Milkha Singh of India Jeev Milkha Singh of India
“I’ll try to win the tournament. But it’s only one round. I’m not too old … 48 already. I’m happy to still be playing.
“This year, the greens are very fast and the course conditions are very good. You can control your ball on the greens which are receptive. This is Asian Tour style. I’ll keep trying to play well.”
Singh, coming off a poor run of form with 10 missed cuts in his last 11 tournaments, played in pain due to a lingering injury on his right index finger. He missed a short par putt on his last hole to end the day two back of the clubhouse lead.
“I’m happy with that after all the weeks that I’ve had. I’m glad to be back in Asia. One under has given me a lot of confidence for the next three days. I hit a lot of good shots and putted well. I handled myself well as there was a lot of pain in my hand,” said Singh.
“That’s (the pain) part of the package now. I’ve made the decision to play golf until the end of the year. I’m going to carry on. Obviously I can’t hit the full shots with the driver but for the irons I can,” he said.