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Drysdale, Lee set early pace at Macau Open as Hong Kong trio make strong starts

David Drysdale and Min-woo Lee fired matching 62s on a day of low scoring at the SJM Macau Open, where just four shots separated the top 20 on the leader board.

The Scotsman and Australian ended Thursday’s first round at Macau Golf and Country Club on nine under par, a shot clear of Ajeetesh Sandhu, Ben Campbell and Ian Snyman.

Typhoon Koinu’s after-effects meant preferred lies were in place for the Asian Tour event, so while the pair matched Anirban Lahiri’s course record from 2013, they will not find their way into the history books.

Still, Lee was more than happy with his “really nice score”, which had its foundations in a good day off the tee, despite the wind that took hold early.

“We were aggressive, smart,” Lee said. “It worked out pretty well. Drove on the fairway most of the time and had wedges in.”

Hong Kong’s Taichi Kho heads to his ball during the first round of the SJM Macau Open. Photo: Asian Tour

Drysdale, meanwhile, had a glimpse of a 59, but after birdieing 15 to join Lee at the top of the leader board, parred his way home.

“I missed makeable birdie putts on the last three holes, including a 10-footer on the last,” the 48-year-old said. “However, I would have taken a 62 at the start of the day. The first time I played the course was yesterday in the Pro-Am, and that was in a buggy.”

Among the early starters, Lee, playing in a group with Taichi Kho and Scott Hend, set the pace and for a time looked as if he would be alone out in front, with only Phachara Khongwatmai to threaten him.

The Thai golfer rattled off four birdies in five holes on the back nine to reach nine under, but double-bogeyed the par-four 16th to end the day in a tie for sixth with Meen-whee Kim.

Not too far behind was Jae-woong Eom, who got closer than anybody to last week’s runaway winner David Puig in Singapore and is on something of a tear. The South Korean finished his bogey-free day three shots back, and has dropped two strokes in his past 90 holes.

Eom’s 65 left him in a six-way tie for eighth at six under, with Kho among a group a stroke further back after an opening round of 66.

The Asian Games gold medal-winner, who finished with a birdie on the par-five 18th, said the wind had made things difficult, and he had “just hung in there and was really pleased how I was able to finish the day strong”.

Compatriots Matthew Cheung and Leon D’Souza had solid starts to their tournaments as well, finishing at three under and one under respectively.

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