India’s Arjun Atwal finished one shot behind leaders Yusaku Miyazato, Jason Scrivener and Aaron Rai with a four-under-par 66 at the end of the opening round at the HONMA Hong Kong Open on Thursday.
Based in Florida, U.S., the 45-year-old flew into Hong Kong ready to put up a performance befitting his reputation as one of Asia’s golf legends. He took the clubhouse lead in the morning but was dislodged from the top of the leaderboard under more favourable conditions in the afternoon.
Atwal is no stranger to success, having won the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2003 and multiple victories across Asia, Europe and the U.S. He returned with a flawless card, highlighted by four birdies on holes one, three, four and 17.
The other Indians in the fray were far behind. Khalin Joshi (68) was positioned tied-ninth, Shubhankar Sharma (69) tied-23rd, Ajeetesh Sandhu and S. S. P. Chawrasia (70) tied-41st, Chiragh Kumar (71) tied-53rd, Jeev Milkha Singh and S. Chikkarangappa (72) tied-72nd, Shiv Kapur and Viraj Madappa (73) tied-89th, and Rashid Khan and Jyoti Randhawa (75) tied-113th.
Australia’s Sam Brazel, who won the Hong Kong Open in 2016, was also in the mix, having carding a 68. His only blemish was at the par-three eight where he suffered a bogey-four. Brazel is bunched in the tied-ninth place alongside — besides Joshi — Thongchai Jaidee and Scott Hend, who had won the event in 2014.
Major winner Patrick Reed of the U.S., meanwhile, had a round to forget. He opened his campaign with a disappointing 75, while Spain’s Sergio Garcia signed for a 70 to stay five shots back of the leaders.
Atwal, who hit 10/14 fairways, 15/18 greens and made a total of 29 putts, reflected on his outing on Thursday. He said, “[The result] was unexpected, but I’ll take it. It was really tough out there today. Especially early in the morning, it was really cold and windy. Felt like it was coming from all over.”
Atwal, the first Indian golfer to win on the US PGA Tour at the Wyndham Championship in 2010, last won on the Asian Tour in the Dubai Open in 2014.
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