HONG Kong (Reuters) - India’s SSP Chawrasia mastered windy conditions to grab the first-round lead at the Hong Kong Open with a superb five-under-par 65 in the co-sanctioned event on Thursday.
Starting on the 11th hole, the six-time Asian Tour winner dropped a lone shot on the fifth but sank his sixth birdie on the ninth to finish one shot ahead of compatriot Shubhankar Sharma and Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick.
“I’m playing well today. I’m hitting well and (playing) some putts well,” Chawrasia said. “Very tough conditions today. I’m very happy with my five under.”
Fitzpatrick dropped a shot on the first before reeling off a hat-trick of birdies and the Englishman grabbed a share of the lead when Chawrasia bogeyed the fifth.
The Indian sank a 15-footer on the ninth to stay ahead of the chasing pack.
Belgian Thomas Detry, Welshman Jamie Donaldson, Swede Marcus Kinhult, South African Keith Horne, Filipino Angelo Que, Thai Poom Saksansin and American Micah Lauren Shin returned three-under.
Playing alongside Fitzpatrick, European number one Tommy Fleetwood, fellow Englishman Justin Rose and seven others were a further shot behind.
Defending champion Sam Brazel and Rafa Cabrera Bello were bunched among 16 players at one-under.
Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by Ken Ferris