Shane Lowry enjoys solid first round in Hong Kong

Australia’s Wade Ormsby and Japan’s Tomoharu Otsuki share the opening round lead

 Shane Lowry of Ireland during the first round of the Hong Kong Open. Photograph: Getty Images

Shane Lowry of Ireland during the first round of the Hong Kong Open. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Shane Lowry’s first round 69 leaves him inside the top 20 at the Hong Kong Open on the Asian Tour.

Lowry had one birdie and one bogey on the front nine, before adding birdies on the 15th and 17th. Sandwiching his second bogey of the round. He hit 11 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens in regulation, as he tunes up for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship next week where he’ll defend the title he won last year.

The event - which lost its European Tour status after it was postponed last November due to civil unrest - represents Lowry's first start of the season in what is a four-week stretch taking in his title defence next week, the Dubai Desert Classic the week after and finishing with his debut at the controversial Saudi International event in Saudi Arabia.

Australia’s Wade Ormsby and Japan’s Tomoharu Otsuki share the opening round lead after they returned with matching five-under-par 65s.

Ormsby found himself back in a familiar position atop the leaderboard - just as he did when he won the Hong Kong Open in 2017 - after marking his card with six birdies and one bogey.

Otsuki, an Asian Tour Qualifying School graduate in 2019, enjoyed a fast start with three birdies in his opening five holes before adding two more birdies on holes 12 and 13 in his back-nine for a flawless 65 at the Hong Kong Golf Club.

With swirling winds and challenging golf conditions presenting a tough test to the 120 players, Korea’s Yikeun Chang also showed his early promise when he signed for a 66 to share third place with the Australian duo of Travis Smyth and David Gleeson.

Thailand’s Gunn Charoenkul continued to carry forward his consistent form into the new decade when he returned with a 67 to stay two shots off the pace in tied-sixth along with teen sensation Joohyung Kim of Korea.

Kim announced his arrival with his Asian Tour breakthrough in India last year and the 17-year-old did not disappoint again as he outplayed his playing partners, Jazz Janewattananond and Lowry, who are the reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit champion and British Open champion respectively.

Jazz signed for a 68 to end the day in tied-12th while Lowry’s 69 leaves him among 11 players, including US Ryder Cup player Tony Finau, in a share of 20th place.

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