TAIPEI (Reuters) - Frenchman Lionel Weber rolled in nine putts in nine holes to jump to the top of the leaderboard with an opening round of 68 at the Asian Tour’s Taiwan Masters on Thursday.
The five birdie, four-under-par round left him two clear of Malaysia’s Nicholas Fung, Steve Lewton of England and Thailand’s 2010 winner Pariya Junhasavasdikul at the $650,000 event.
Weber is 70th on the Asian Tour Order of Merit and needs a top 60 finish to ensure he retains playing privileges for next season.
More solid putting over the next three days at the Taiwan Golf and Country Club’s testing Tamsui course would leave him with little worries.
“My putting was really good. I think this is the first time I’ve got only nine putts in nine holes. It was like a perfect day for me,” the 24-year-old said after his round.
”The playing conditions are good. I’m happy with how I played.
“You need to play smart. You can’t be too aggressive out there, especially on the par fours and par threes. Your short game has to be good too.”
Weber was one of only nine players to finish under par on a tricky Thursday in Taiwan.
Thai pair Prom Meesawat and Namchok Tantipokhakul were alongside American duo Sam Cyr and Anthony Kang and Australian Marcus Both in tied fifth after 71s.
Defending champion Scott Hend was one of the many who struggled, the Australian firing five bogeys and a double in a 76 to sit down in a tie for 75th.
Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; editing by Amlan Chakraborty