Aaron Rai, Jason Scrivener and Yusaku Miyazato lead the way at the Honma Hong Kong Open presented by Amundi after benefiting from favourable afternoon conditions on Thursday.
After India’s Arjun Atwal had set the early clubhouse target with a flawless 66 on a cool and windy morning in Fanling, calmer weather opened the door for later starters Rai, Scrivener and Miyazato to produce opening 65s and move to the top of the leaderboard.
Three-time European Tour winner Atwal, Challenge Tour graduate Jack Singh Brar and American Micah Lauren Shin were the leaders’ nearest challengers on four under after they all carded four birdies and no bogeys in their opening rounds.
Rai began his round with a birdie at the first but had to wait until the 12th to pick up his second shot after a string of pars. He was rewarded for his patience with an eagle at the 13th, sending a stunning approach to within a few inches of the cup before tapping in.
Australian Scrivener only managed one birdie on his front nine before picking up four shots in five holes from the 12th to get to five under, meanwhile Japan’s Miyazato started from the 11th tee and carded birdies at the 13th and 15th, before making further gains on the fourth and seventh to join Rai and Scrivener at the summit.
South Africa’s Thomas Aiken and Thailand’s Danthai Boonma were in a tie for seventh on three under. Englishman Tommy Fleetwood sits further back at one under, with Spaniard Sergio Garcia posting level par.
The day began with Challenge Tour winner Joachim B Hansen playing the opening tee-shot of the 2019 Race to Dubai season.