A blistering eight-under-par 62 from Mark Brown propelled the New Zealander into the first round lead at the UBS Hong Kong Open today.
The 35-year-old, bidding for a second win on the European Tour since claiming the 2008 Johnnie Walker Classic, leads Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and India’s Jeev Milkha Singh by one stroke at the Hong Kong Golf Club.
Starting on the 10th, Brown picked up birdies in four of his first six holes before picking up another shot on the par-four 18th to make the turn in five under.
He continued his charge with three successive gains from the second before making par in his remaining holes to ensure he takes a slender advantage into tomorrow’s second round.
“I have a good mate on the bag this week,” said Brown. “I grew up with him at my home course in New Zealand and is has sort of got me back to a few of things I used to do when I was younger swing-wise.
“It seems to be working so I will stick with those things.”
McIlroy had teed off in the morning and set the early pace with eight birdies against just one bogey as the Ulsterman looks to win the UBS Hong Kong Open at the third time of asking, having narrowly missed out in 2008 and 2009.
The 21-year-old holed a putt from 15 feet on the ninth – his last – to move ahead of the field before Brown made his charge.
McIlroy’s only blemish came on the par-four sixth when he sent hit his tee shot into the trees, requiring him to play it out left-handed.
“It is a great start to the tournament obviously. Going out and shooting a good first round is a great start,” he said.
“You always feel you can do better. I let one go on the sixth, which was my only bogey of the day.”
England’s Simon Dyson shot the first hole-in-one of the tournament on his way to a six under 64 that puts him in a tie for fourth alongside Denmark’s Soren Hansen.
The 32-year-old from York hit his tee shot on the par-three, 144 yard 12th to within two feet of the pin before the ball rolled into the hole.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better start,” said Dyson. “The course is excellent and the weather even better.”
Ireland’s Graeme McDowell – second to Germany’s Martin Kaymer in the Race to Dubai – is three shots off the pace after carding a five under 65 to sit alongside English duo Oliver Wilson and Kenneth Ferrie, Irishman Damien McGrane, Rhys Davies of Wales and South Korean Nam Young in sixth place.
Defending champion Gregory Bourdy finished the day four under with Ian Poulter a shot further back.