Spain’s Javier Colomo, ranked outside the world’s top 500, upstaged Rory McIlroy to grab the first-round lead at the UBS Hong Kong Open yesterday.
The unheralded Colomo, languishing at 507th in the world, fired six birdies in a flawless six-under-par 64 to take a shock lead at the US$2 million showpiece that is co-sanctioned by the European Tour and the Asian Tour.
His sizzling round was in stark contrast to that of McIlroy’s. The defending champion endured a torrid day at an increasingly blustery Hong Kong Golf Club, carding a three-over-par 73 to leave him well off the pace.
“I probably just lacked a bit of energy out there. I felt a bit lethargic — mentally, more than physically, if I am being honest,” McIlroy said.
“I started off OK and just got more and more frustrated as the round went on. I just felt like I was hitting some decent shots and just not really converting any chances for birdies, and I just let it get to me a little bit,” he said.
Colomo, who plays on the Asian Tour, where he sits a modest 33rd on the money list, said: “I’m playing really good because this is my first season here [in Asia].”
“The first six months it was very hard for me and my wife, but now we are more comfortable and more happy, perfect,” Colomo said.
Spain’s Jose-Maria Olazabal, Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup captain, sat alongside China’s Zhang Lianwei, Fredrik Andersson Hed of Sweden, South Korea’s Y.E. Yang and Italy’s Lorenzo Gagli at four-under.
Taiwan’s Chan Yih-shin was tied for 27th on one-under. Compatriots Lin Wen-tang and Lu Wen-teh were a shot further back, with another Taiwanese, Tsai Chi-huang, joint-128th on six-over.
Additional reporting by staff writer