Duangdecha upstaged the stars
The battle for European supremacy remained all square on a day when an unheralded Thai stole the show at the Hong Kong Open.
The battle for European supremacy remained all square after a first day at the UBS Hong Kong Open when unheralded Thai Udorn Duangdecha stole the show.
As Race to Dubai leader Lee Westwood and nearest challenger Rory McIlroy opened with four-under-par first rounds, Udorn just missed out on equalling the course record with an eight-under 62 to sit a shot clear of Dutchman Robert-Jan Derksen.
Wearing trousers which would not have looked out of place on American John Daly, the 39-year-old, who is enjoying his best season on the Asian Tour after doubling his lifetime earnings, carded just two bogeys in deteriorating conditions.
“I am not surprised by how I played because I followed my game plan,” said the Chang Mai native, who turned pro in 2000.
“Last year my preparations were not very good, but this year I have a better feeling. My body is in a better shape and I have had better practice.”
With defending champion Lin Wen-tang, Gregory Bourdy and David Dixon at six under and Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Thongchai Jaidee leading a group a further shot off the pace, Westwood and McIlroy sat tied for 17th in a large contingent four shots off the pace.
With Westwood struggling on the greens on his first visit to Hong Kong, last year’s runner-up McIlroy will hope his experience around the tree-lined course will prove crucial to edge ahead on the money list heading into next week’s season-ending Dubai World Championship.
“There are 54 holes left so it doesn’t matter until Sunday,” said McIlroy. “We’re both playing pretty well to be in the positions we’re in so I’m not surprised Lee is up there.
“I’ve just got to keep doing it. I’m not sure if three more 66s will be good enough so I might need to go a little better over the next three days.”
Westwood’s first competitive trip around the Fanling course was certainly a team affair as caddie Billy Foster was called upon on several occasions to lend his advice on the greens.
“I wouldn’t say I flushed it but I had enough control to hit 17 of 18 greens,” said Westwood.
“I had a lot of chances but found the greens puzzling.”
With much of the focus on Westwood and McIlroy, four-time Q-School graduate
The battle for European supremacy remains all square but a little known Thai has stolen the show at the UBS Hong Kong Open.
Dixon is one of many in the field this week battling to secure their cards with Hong Kong representing a last chance saloon for the likes of Oliver Wilson, 2004 Celtic Manor Wales Open Simon Khan victor and 2005 Volvo PGA Championship winner Scott Drummond.
Last year’s Saint-Omer Open winner Dixon is currently just inside the 115 full members who will secure their cards for next season, but is looking over his shoulder with the co-sanctioned JBWere Masters also taking place this week in Australia.
“I played well and putted nicely,” said Dixon. “I read the grain quite nicely and it was just what I needed, to get a good start to this week. The grain is tricky and I had a few putts which went further than you think but you have to stay patient.”
Wilson knows 43rd place is a minimum this week but was down the field after a two-over 72, while Khan needs to reach at least ninth and made an encouraging start as a three-under 67 left him tied for 29th.
Drummond must claim at least seventh with his five-year exemption set to run out and will need to stage his bid from a long way back after opening with a 69.
ALL THE FIRST ROUND SCORES
(Gbr & Irl unless stated, par 70):
62 Udorn Duangdecha (Tha)
63 Robert Jan Derksen (Ned)
64 David Dixon, Wen-Tang Lin (Tpe), Gregory Bourdy (Fra), Thongchai Jaidee (Tha)
65 Rory Sabbatini (Rsa), Wei Chih Lu (Tha), Charl Schwartzel (Rsa), Ben Curtis (USA), Rhys Davies, Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia (Ind), Tony Carolan (Aus), Kodai Ichihara (Jpn), Mark Foster
66 Francesco Molinari (Ita), Ter-Chang Wang (Tpe), Peter Lawrie, Chinnarat Phadungsil (Tha), Raphael Jacquelin (Fra), Rory McIlroy, Mark O’Meara (USA), Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind), Yong-eun Yang (Kor), Wen-chong Liang (Chn), Bradley Dredge, Jyoti Randhawa (Ind), Lee Westwood
67 Rahil Gangjee (Ind), Anton Haig (Rsa), Graeme McDowell, Robert Dinwiddie, Lian-Wei Zhang (Chn), Unho Park (Aus), Kenneth Ferrie, Simon Khan, Juvic Pagunsan (Phi), Ignacio Garrido (Spa), Danny Chia (Mal)
68 Anders Hansen (Den), Mars Pucay (Phi), Simon Dyson, Graeme Storm, Pablo Larrazabal (Spa), Marc Warren, Prayad Marksaeng (Tha), Michael Jonzon (Swe), Airil-Rizman Zahari (Mal), Gregory Havret (Fra), Shiv Kapur (Ind), Darren Beck (Aus), Scott Strange (Aus), Chris Rodgers, Mark Brown (Nzl), Jason Knutzon (USA), Andrew McLardy (Rsa), Mardan Mamat (Sin), Kiradech Aphibamrat (Tha), Taichiro Kiyota (Jpn), Iain Steel (Mal), Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spa), Keith Horne (Rsa), Ian Poulter, James Kamte (Rsa)
69 Gaurav Ghei (Ind), David Howell, Colin Montgomerie, Scott Drummond, Andrew Dodt (Aus), Darren Clarke, Johan Edfors (Swe), Anthony Kang (USA), Jamie Donaldson, Jean-Francois Lucquin (Fra), David Bransdon (Aus), Pablo Martin (Spa)
70 Mikko Ilonen (Fin), Oliver Wilson, Jean Van de Velde (Fra), Simon Yates, Simon Griffiths, Danny Lee (Nzl), Stephen Dodd, Hendrik Buhrmann (Rsa), Artemio-hiromasa Murakami (Phi), Niclas Fasth (Swe), Shun yat jason Hak (Hkg), Markus Brier (Aut), Chapchai Nirat (Tha), Rafael Cabrera Bello (Spa), Daniel Vancsik (Arg), Marcus Both (Aus), Tano Goya (Arg)
71 Bryan Saltus (USA), Soren Kjeldsen (Den), Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind), Christian Cevaer (Fra), Jeppe Huldahl (Den), Magnus A Carlsson (Swe), Neven Basic (Aus), Derek Fung (Hkg), Chih-bing Lam (Sin), Chawalit Plaphol (Tha), Robert Karlsson (Swe), Scott Hend (Aus), Scott Barr (Aus), Joong Kyung Mo (Kor), Anirban Lahiri (Ind), Thomas Levet (Fra)
72 Inn-choon Hwang (Kor), Nicholas Redfern, David Gleeson (Aus), Jarmo Sandelin (Swe), Mads Vibe-Hastrup (Den), Oliver Fisher, William Fung wai kuen (Hkg), Shane Lowry
73 Sung Lee (Pkr), Somkiat Srisa-nga (Tha), Rafael Echenique (Arg), Maarten Lafeber (Ned), Daniel Nisbet (Aus), C Muniyappa (Ind), Oskar Henningsson (Swe), Angelo Que (Phi), Gavin Flint (Aus), Michael Hoey
74 Shing chi Tang (Hkg), Sang-moon Bae (Kor), Jovick Lee (Hkg)
75 Mikael Lundberg (Swe), Ricardo Gonzalez (Arg), Prom Meesawat (Tha), Man Lok Lee (Hkg), Guido Van Der Valk (Ned)
76 Antonio Lascuna (Phi), Kane Webber (Aus), Digvijay Singh (Ind)
77 Jbe Kruger (Rsa), Grant Gibson (Hkg), Jose Manuel Lara (Spa)
78 Mitchell Brown (Aus), Steven Lam (Hkg)
80 Woon Man Wong (Hkg)
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