November 20, 2008 – Liang Wenchong lit up the first round of the UBS Hong Kong Open with a brilliant six-under-par 64 on Thursday (November 20).
The Chinese No.1 fired seven birdies against a lone bogey at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling to share the lead with South Africa’s Richard Sterne.
“I felt very good today,” said Liang. “I tried to be very positive and just take each hole step-by-step. My performance was very steady.”
Liang is attempting to become China’s first ever winner of the US$2.5 million tournament, which is celebrating its 50th edition this year.
He said he was trying to be more patient after being too aggressive at last week’s Singapore Open when he had a final-round 78 to finish joint 32nd.
“My performance in Singapore was not steady,” he said. “The third round was good, but the fourth round, mentally and psychologically, was not. My coach is here this week and he is asking me to be patient and perform better.”
Liang’s lone bogey came on his final hole – the par-four ninth – despite a lucky break with his approach shot.
“I missed my second shot,” he explained. “Luckily it bounced on a cement irrigation box and finished on the green, but then I three-putted for bogey.”
Sterne’s superb opening effort – eight birdies against two bogeys – came despite his never having played the course before.
“I got in late Tuesday, so I didn’t have a practice round and I wasn’t in the pro-am on Wednesday,” he revealed.
“I’ve done that a few times before, so I’m not really too fazed about it. It went pretty well. Sometimes it helps, you don’t know where all the trouble is. I had a good start and I just kept on going.”
Chinese Taipei’s Lin Wen Tang and Frankie Minoza of the Philippines were a stroke behind the leaders at five-under while four players were grouped on four-under.
Among the big names posting sub-par scores were two-time Major winner John Daly and 2005 UBS Hong Kong Open champion Colin Montgomerie, who posted 68s.
“Being in the top 20 on the first day means that things are going OK and then we can build on that over the next three days,” said Montgomerie.
A quartet of former Hong Kong champions – Germany’s Bernhard Langer, José María Olazábal of Spain, South African David Frost and Kang Wook Soon of Korea – were all on one-under 69.
England’s Simon Griffiths left the Hong Kong Golf Club with a smile on his face after a hole-in-one at the par-three, 144-yard 12th hole.
That effort earned him a solid gold bar worth almost US$24,000 from tournament title sponsor UBS.
“It was amazing,” said Griffiths, who finished on level-par 70. “I saw Miles [Tunnicliff, his playing partner] hit a nine-iron just before which was a bit long, so I knew I could hit a smooth nine-iron.
“I hit it straight at the flag, it pitched two feet short and released slowly to the hole. It took a while to register that I had won something.”