Sport - Golf - Miguel Tabuena
Miguel Tabuena leading at Hong Kong Golf Club Image Credit: Asian Tour

Miguel Tabuena’s hot streak continued today at the World City Championship presented by the Hong Kong Golf Club when he fired an outstanding seven-under-par 63 to take the lead on day one.

The Filipino won The DGC Open presented by Mastercard last week for his first victory on the Asian Tour since 2018 and he was bang in form again today on the Composite Course at the Hong Kong Golf Club.

Hong Kong’s rising young star Taichi Kho shot a 64 and is second, ahead of Australian Scott Hend, who carded a 65.

Tabuena playing in the afternoon and in pursuit of Kho’s morning score was quickly into his stride with birdies on the first, third, fifth and sixth to make the turn in four under. And a run of four birdies in a row from the 11th saw him take control of the US$1 million tournament.

He dropped his only shot of the day on 16 and holed a brilliant 18 footer to save par on the last.

“I am riding on some of the momentum from last week,” said Tabuena, whose win last week was his third on the Asian Tour.

“It is nice to be bogey free for 34 holes including last week but I had an errant tee shot on 16 but other than that I am playing great golf. It is very early in the week to even think about the finish line but if I play the way I am playing I know I will give myself a good chance, on the back nine on Sunday.”

His victory last Sunday drained him both mentally and physically so his fitness coach Dr Harry Sese in the United States gave him some sound advice.

Tabuena said: “It’s been five years since I have experienced a victory on the Asian Tour and I got a text from Harry Sese, who works on my fitness and is the main guy for Jon Rahm and a fellow Filipino, saying ‘Migs stay hydrated, I know your energy levels can be low especially after a win so it’s very important to recover’.”

Rookie professional Kho was unveiled as the Hong Kong Golf Club’s Ambassador this week and he has quickly repaid the famous Club’s faith in him by also firing a brilliant round made up of an eagle, five birdies and just one bogey.

“Just an incredible start,” said 22-year-old Kho, who made it through the Asian Tour Qualifying School in January and made the cut in the two events he has played in so far.

“I went out there with no expectations. I was quite nervous, there has been a lot going on with media. I was really nervous waking up this morning but once I stepped onto the tee it kind of flowed. Had a good round but was more proud about how I was able to channel that. I used the nerves and adrenaline to my advantage.

“I have got to say thank you to everyone who came this week and will continue to come out, whether following me or other Hong Kong players, it’s really great to feel that kind of support.”

Kho has played here many times and became a member in January and so was able to draw on his extensive local knowledge of the Composite Course – which uses the best of the holes from the New and Eden courses.

He said: “I realised certain clubs off the tee I was choosing quite differently from my playing partners. In that sense I see the golf course in a certain way. Whenever I see certain shots I feel very confident that’s the right shot.”

That was certainly the case when he began his round. Starting on hole 10 he birdied that hole as well as the following two before an eagle on 13.

Hend, who won the Hong Kong Open here in 2014, is still struggling with an upset tummy which he picked up in New Delhi last week but that did not stop him from shooting a low number, highlighted by three closing birdies.

“Got off to a slow start today, didn’t hole any putts,” he said.

“The golf course is playing a little different to what we are used to, just got to be a bit patient and figure the greens out. Felt like I had a better handle on them on the second nine.

“It’s in between growth season so the leaf on the greens is different from when we play in November when it’s quite a tight nap and they are quite fast, at the moment it’s more of a nappy sort of a green but they are still pretty quick but it’s a different break, need to pick different lines. Condition wise the course is magnificent.”

England’s Ian Poulter, the 2010 Hong Kong Open champion, shot a 68, while Wade Ormsby, the Hong Kong Open winner in 2017 and 2020 and the International Series Thailand two weeks ago, from Australia came in with a 69.

Dubai based Jeev Milkha Singh could only musted a one over par 71 on the opening round, on a course he might of expected more on due to his history here in the past.

Jeev told GULF NEWS on completing his round, ‘I am feeling very comfortable with my golf. Winning the recent Japan Senior Qualifying School gave me a lot of confidence. It could have been much better today, but I dropped three shots over the last three holes, having started on tee 10. I have a good record here at Hong Kong Golf Club, having first played in a tournament here on the Asian Tour in 1994, and in 2006, in the same year I won the Asian Tour Order of Merit, I came tied third at this course.’

The World City Championship presented by the Hong Kong Golf Club is the first international golf tournament in the Special Administrative Region of China for 38 months.

The tournament also has the honour of being part of The Open Qualifying Series, with the leading four players not otherwise exempt earning a place in The Open at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in July.