HONG KONG – David Higgins of Ireland shot a 6-under-par 64 to lead the European Tour’s UBS Hong Kong Open by one after the first round on Thursday.
Higgins, who lost his European Tour card at the end of last season, carded nine birdies and three bogeys. Andrea Pavan of Italy bogeyed his final hole to finish one behind Higgins.
The UBS Hong Kong Open is one of two European Tour events on the schedule this week. The other is the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa.
"It is a great start," Higgins said. "This is a good course which rewards the guy who hits the fairways and I'm pleased with the way I'm playing."
Seven others from five nations, including Seve Benson of England, Andrew Dodt of Australia and Sujjan Singh of India, were at 4 under.
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Defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez three-putted for a bogey at the last hole to finish on even-par 70, six adrift of Higgins.
"I'm hitting good, but I need some more putts. This is OK finishing on even par," said Jimenez, who was chasing his fourth Hong Kong Open title after victories in 2004, 2007 and 2012.
China's teenage sensation, Tianlang Guan, raised eyebrows when he scorched to the lead at 5 under after 11 holes.
Guan, 15, who created a stir at the Masters in April when he became the youngest player – at 14 years and five months – to make the cut at a major, rolled in five birdies as he set the Fanling fairways alight.
But the Guangzhou amateur pressed the self-destruct button on the last four holes, collecting bogey-bogey-bogey-triple bogey to finish 1-over 71.
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"It is a little disappointing," Guan said. "I began well and gave myself a lot of opportunities. But towards the end I struggled with my swing and drove a couple into the rough."
Guan, playing in the company of John Daly, came close to upstaging his illustrious countrymen, China No. 1 Wen-chong Liang (71) and former champion Lian-wei Zhang (70).
Daly had a day to forget, struggling to an 8-over 78.
"I could drink a six-pack of beer when I was 15, but I certainly couldn't play like that," Daly said of Guan.