Paul Casey made a nightmare start to the UBS Hong Kong Open – but emerged smiling and still harbouring hopes of landing the title.
The Ryder Cup star found himself six-over-par after just 11 holes at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling on Thursday, a far cry from his heroics of the week before when he clinched the Volvo China Open in a playoff.
The Englishman rediscovered his touch on the back nine and finished with three straight birdies for a four-over 74 – 10 strokes behind leader Kang Wook Soon of Korea.
Still, Casey was able to see the funny side. “I was stuck behind trees, all sorts, it wasn’t good,” he said. “Everything that could have happened on my front nine, did happen!
“It was tricky and, combined with a couple of bad shots, it was all going against me. It was strange because I was swinging the golf club nicely and I played all right last week, obviously.
“On my second nine it seemed to come together a bit and I started to get a few breaks as well. I hung in there.”
Asked why he was still smiling, he said: “Well, why not? There is nothing else I can do.”
At least he provided some entertainment for playing partner Thomas Bjorn.
Casey revealed: “On the par five, the third [his 12th hole, as he started on the 10th], I hit a great approach shot and it hit the flag and bounced back into the bunker! Even Thomas was laughing at me there. But there you go.
“I was a little bit drained after last week’s win but that doesn’t account for what happened today. I didn’t feel that fresh this morning, I must admit, but that doesn’t excuse the front nine. I just didn’t have anything going out there.
“But I’d rather have a win last week and struggle this week than have two average weeks.”
Not that Casey has given up hope of getting something from his Hong Kong trip. “I tried, and tomorrow I will go out there and try to shoot four under or something like that. The way I finished with three birdies was great and very encouraging and I will try to take that form out there again tomorrow.”