Australia’s Scott Hend and Hwang Inn-choon of South Korea lead the field after the opening round of the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters yesterday after each shot a six-under-par 66.
Reigning Open Championship winner Ernie Els of South Africa was also in the mix after returning with a 68 at the US$750,000 Asian Tour event at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club.
Bernd Wiesberger of Austria, who finished tied for seventh last year, fired 67 for third, while Thai rising star Arnond Vongvanij, Jason Knutzon of the US, Adilson Da Silva of Brazi,l and Australians David Lutterus and Scott Barr were a further shot back with Els.
“I’m in a good position. The scores are going to be low this week so I’ve got to keep grinding those numbers and add that into a good score,” said Hend, who traded six birdies and one eagle against one double-bogey.
The big-hitting Australian won the Chiangmai Golf Classic in Thailand in March.
South Korea’s Hwang birdied four of his closing five holes to share the lead.
“I’m very happy because my putting was so good and I hit a lot of drives on the fairways,” he said.
A return to Asia has brought out the best from four-time major champion Els, who finished tied 13th at the Masters Tournament and was placed 15th on the PGA Tour on Sunday.
“I’m starting to feel more comfortable with my game,” he said. “I feel that things are starting to come around.”
Taiwan’s Hung Chien-yao tied fired 70 to tie for 21st place, while fellow Taiwanese Lin Wen-tang was way back in 92nd along with compatriot Chan Yih-shin after both hit 73s.