Atwal overcomes jet lag and lies one shot behind leaders
Hong Kong, Nov 22 (PTI) India's Arjun Atwal stayed one shot behind first-round leaders Yusaku Miyazato of Japan, Australia's Jason Scrivener and England's Aaron Rai after he signed for an opening four-under-par 66 at the HONMA Hong Kong Open Thursday.
Atwal took the clubhouse lead in the morning but was dislodged from the top of the leaderboard when the trio made their moves at the Hong Kong Golf Club under more favourable weather conditions in the afternoon.
Based in Florida in the United States, the 45-year-old flew into Hong Kong ready to put up a performance befitting his reputation as one of Asia's golf legends.
Atwal, no stranger to success having won the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2003 and enjoying multiple victories across Asia, Europe and the United States, returned with a flawless card that was highlighted by four birdies on holes one, three, four and 17.
The other Indians were Khalin Joshi (68) at tied 9th, Shubahnkar Sharma (69) at tied 23rd, Ajeetesh Sandhu and SSP Chawrasia (70) at tied 41, Chiragh Kumar (71) at tied 53rd, Jeev Milkha Singh and S CHikkarangappa (72) at tied 72nd; Shiv Kapur and Viraj Madappa (73) at tied 89th, Rashid Khan and Jyoti Randhawa (75) at tied 113th.
Australia's Sam Brazel, who won the Hong Kong Open in 2016, was also in the mix after carding a 68 where the only blemish on his card came at the par-three eight where he suffered a bogey-four.
Brazel is bunched in tied-ninth place that also includes Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee, India's Khalin Joshi and compatriot Scott Hend, who also won the event in 2014.
Major winner Patrick Reed of the United States meanwhile had a round to forget after opening 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, said, "It 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 Dubai Open in 2014. He also won the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2003