GOLF : Unheralded Thai Udorn Duangdecha carded an eight-under-par 62 to claim a one-stroke lead ahead of Robert-Jan Derksen after the first round of the UBS Hong Kong Open.
Unheralded Thai Udorn Duangdecha carded an eight-under-par 62 to claim a one-stroke lead ahead of Robert-Jan Derksen after the first round of the UBS Hong Kong Open.
Despite battling a fever, Udorn just missed out on equalling the course record after finishing his round with a second bogey of the day – a three-putt on the already testing ninth green in torrential rain and fading light.
Two-time European Tour winner Derksen had set the pace in the morning with a seven-under-par 63.
Udorn, 39, is enjoying his best season on the Asian Tour after doubling his lifetime earnings with a career-best second-place finish at August’s Queen’s Cup in his native Thailand before claiming third at last month’s Mercuries Taiwan Masters after leading for the first three rounds.
“I am not surprised by how I played because I followed my gameplan,” said Udorn, who turned professional in 2000.
“Last year my preparations were not very good but this year I have a better feeling. My body is in a better shape and I have had better practice.”
Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Thongchai Jaidee, a two-time European Tour winner this season, sits two off the pace alongside defending champion Lin Wen-tang, David Dixon and Gregory Bourdy at six under par.
Former Open champion Ben Curtis, Mark Foster, Indian Masters champion SSP Chowrasia and South African duo Rory Sabbatini and Charl Schwartzel are in a group three shots off the pace.
Race to Dubai leader Lee Westwood and nearest challenger Rory McIlroy sit together at four under in a group including Mark O’Meara and China’s Liang Wen-chong, who trails Thongchai in the battle to become Asian number one.
Westwood leads McIlroy by a mere 52,321 euro at the top of the European money list, with Hong Kong representing the last event ahead of the season-ending Dubai World Championship.