Higgins sets early pace in Hong Kong

Thu 05 Dec 2013

Higgins sets early pace in Hong Kong

  • SHARE
Hong Kong December 5: Ireland’s David Higgins took the early honours when he posted a six-under-par 64 to grab the first round lead at the US$1.3 million Hong Kong Open on Thursday.
Italy’s Andrea Pavan trailed Higgins by one when he returned with a 65 to take second place while seven players including Singapore’s Lam Chih Bing and Mardan Mamat, India’s Sujjan Singh and Thailand’s Prom Meesawat were among the seven players bunched in equal third on matching 66s at the Hong Kong Golf Club.
Higgins was delighted with his opening effort after he traded nine birdies against three bogeys on a golf course which he felt suited his playing style.
“It's my type of track. You have to be very precise with your iron shots, be a good putter, have a good short game and keep it on the fairway. So it suits me perfectly. It's the type of course I grew up playing.  You have to be careful as the ball runs out and runs off the edges of greens,” said the 41-year-old.
“This is a great start.  I still have a long way to go, so we won't get ahead of ourselves, but I'm delighted with today,” added Higgins.
Pavan also opened his campaign at the Hong Kong Open promisingly as he notched six birdies against a lone bogey at the storied championship which is celebrating its 55th anniversary.
“I started off well and hit it close many times on my front nine, starting from the 11th. I was four under and playing pretty flawless golf, but I made a few mistakes towards the end. Overall though it’s a good round and I'm pleased,” said Pavan.
Prom continued his resurgence and is hopeful of ending his seven-year winless drought on the Asian Tour after opening with a 66 in the morning.
The burly Thai came agonisingly close to winning again in Manila last month when he lost to China’s Liang Wen-chong in a play-off.
He then plotted his way into the winner’s circle by putting himself in contention in Indonesia last week and is back on his comeback trail following another commanding performance at the Hong Kong Golf Club.
“I don’t really want to think too far ahead now but I’ve been playing well recently and I hope this good form will see me win another title on Sunday,” said Prom, nicknamed ‘Big Dolphin’ for his burly physique and because he hails from the coastal town of Hua Hin.
Prom is aware he has to tame the lighting fast greens at the Hong Kong Golf Club to put himself in a prime position and win the Hong Kong Open.
“The greens are really fast and it’s important to control your shots well. It's a tough course but I played very well especially from tee to green,” said Prom, whose lone victory on the region’s premier Tour came in Korea in 2006.
Like Prom, Singh is also looking to bounce back to form following a long layoff due to a freak hand injury sustained while moving his luggage at home.
“I was moving some luggage around my house and I hit my hand into a cupboard. I didn't consider that much would happen, but a few days later I got an X-ray because it was so painful that I couldn't grip the club,” said Singh.
“It took a lot longer than expected to heal. I was not as sharp as before in the few events. But I performed really well in some events back home in India and they have given me some encouragement,” added Singh.
The 33-year-old, who has won once on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) in Indonesia last year, is confident he can spring a surprise at the Hong Kong Open.
“I putted well.  I think that was the main key.  I also made a few great up and downs from the bunkers, and all the way I just kept playing pretty consistently.  Over the last few weeks, my game has been improving steadily,” said Singh.
The Hong Kong Open is co-sanctioned by The European Tour, the Asian Tour and the Hong Kong Golf Association and is the third event of The 2014 Race to Dubai, and one of the last on the 2013 Asian Tour schedule.
Selected Scores after round 1 of the Hong Kong Open Championship 2013 being played at the par 70, 6699 Yards Hong Kong Golf Club course (a- denotes amateur):
64 - David HIGGINS (IRL).
65 - Andrea PAVAN (ITA).
66 - Prom MEESAWAT (THA), Andrew DODT (AUS), LAM Chih Bing (SIN), Seve BENSON (ENG), Mardan MAMAT (SIN), Adam GEE (ENG), Sujjan SINGH (IND).
67 - Stuart MANLEY (WAL), Jbe KRUGER (RSA), Wade ORMSBY (AUS), Jaakko MAKITALO (FIN), Nacho ELVIRA (ESP).
68 - Scott HENRY (SCO), Marcus FRASER (AUS), Anirban LAHIRI (IND), Daisuke KATAOKA (JPN), S.S.P CHOWRASIA (IND), Joel SJOHOLM (SWE), Espen KOFSTAD (NOR), Oliver FISHER (ENG), Alex CEJKA (GER), Chris DOAK (SCO), Chinnarat PHADUNGSIL (THA), Alastair FORSYTH (SCO).
69 - Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA), KIM Si-whan (KOR), Rikard KARLBERG (SWE), Thorbjorn OLESEN (DEN), Daniel BROOKS (ENG), Boonchu RUANGKIT (THA), Shiv KAPUR (IND), Thitiphun CHUAYPRAKONG (THA), AN Byeong-hun (KOR), Duncan STEWART (SCO), Chawalit PLAPHOL (THA), Angelo QUE (PHI), Robert-Jan DERKSEN (NED), David LIPSKY (USA), Jose Manuel LARA (ESP), LU Wei-chih (TPE), James HEATH (ENG).
Selected scores
70 - Miguel Angel JIMENEZ (ESP), ZHANG Lian-wei (CHN)
78 - John DALY (USA)
Ends.