November 15, 2007 – Robert Karlsson was so determined to turn around his fortunes at the UBS Hong Kong Open that he played in both pro-am tournaments ahead of the US$2.25 million showpiece.
And the giant Swede’s tactic paid off with a superb opening round of six-under-par 64 at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling on Thursday (November 15).
“I’m very pleased because I’ve never really done well here before,” said the Ryder Cup star after a bogey-free round that left him two shots behind leader KJ Choi.
“I played both pro-ams this week, on Monday and Wednesday, and I tried to almost play them as a tournament round and see what I had to do differently to get my way around this golf course.
“I just tried to find the keys. I ended up being a lot more conservative off the tees, hitting a lot more irons, and I only used my driver twice today, so I was trying to keep the ball in play and have fun out there.
“I had a couple of good saves out there, too, as well as not dropping any shots.”
Karlsson had previously played in the Hong Kong Open in 1993 and 2005 and was particularly frustrated two years ago.
“I just tried a bit too hard,” he explained. “I was too aggressive off the tee and ended up putting the ball in trouble too often. So this year I thought, ‘Let’s see if I can turn it around.’ It’s a good start, anyway.”
Karlsson’s first-day effort at the UBS Hong Kong Open was matched by fellow Swede Fredrik Andersson Hed who, teeing off from the 10th, began his round with four straight birdies.
“I got off to a great start and I kept playing really solidly after that,” said Andersson Hed after his opening 64.
He revealed that accurate approach play was the key to his round. “On many of the greens, especially on the front nine where a lot of them are very slopey, many of the pin positions get very difficult no matter where they put them on the green,” he said.
“If you are past the pin and have a downhill chip or a downhill putt it is very difficult. So the key on the front nine especially is to keep it below the pin.”