European hold on Hong Kong Open title looks shaky as Indians and Chinese top leaderboard Friends and rivals Jyoti Randhawa and Jeev Milkha Singh raised hopes of an Asian victory at the UBS Hong Kong Open yesterday as they stormed to the top of the leaderboard along with China's number one Liang Wenchong. Randhawa shot a six-under-par 64 to share the first-round lead with Spain's Jose Manuel Lara. Liang was one shot adrift of the leaders on 65, while Singh finished with a 66. The Asian trio carry the top hopes of wresting the Hong Kong tournament from the clutches of Europe's giants, who have dominated for the past seven years - Korean Kang Wook-soon being the last Asian player to win in 1998. Tournament drawcard Retief Goosen of South Africa could only manage an even-par 70, while defending champion Colin Montgomerie of Scotland fared marginally better, finishing with a one-under 69. But Randhawa and company better beware of Goosen and Monty, who are both still well in sight. Randhawa has only to look back to last week when he was leading at the halfway mark of the HSBC Champions in Shanghai, before fading to finish tied in ninth place. 'It has been a great start for me once again. I think the confidence from last week is spilling over to this week,' he said. 'I learned a lot playing in the leading group [last week], and in the company of Tiger Woods in the third round.' Randhawa's exploits earned him a breakthrough into the top 100 in the world rankings, in 89th spot, and saw him join his close friend off the course and great rival on it Singh, who is the top-ranked Indian in 70th place. Randhawa will be hoping to carry on his good form over a full four days this week, as he tries to upstage Singh and, of course, the elite field from the European Tour. 'There is definitely rivalry between us, a friendly one. But off the course we are good friends. When Jeev plays well, I try to up my game,' said Randhawa, who carded seven birdies and a bogey. Tied with him on 64, and at the top of the leaderboard is Spaniard Lara, who is still looking for his first professional victory. It was his best round ever in Hong Kong - he is appearing for the third successive year - and Lara is hoping for more of the same over the next few days. 'I can feel something is coming, but it is too early to start talking about winning,' said Lara. 'While the course is short, you have to hit it really well from the tees. If you miss the greens it is difficult. It is a tough course and one of the best in Asia,' he said. Both Goosen and Montgomerie blamed their slow starts on poor putting. World number five and two-time US Open champion Goosen said: 'Played well, putted bad. Hopefully they will start dropping tomorrow. I felt like I hit a lot of good putts out there, but they just didn't go in.' Montgomerie was of a similar view. 'Just putted horrendously. I lipped out at the 17th and at the last hole. It was unbelievable and it summed up the whole day. But never mind, I will just try and make the cut tomorrow.' One stroke behind the leaders, tied with China's Liang in joint-third, is Frenchman Gregory Bourdy and England's Graeme Storm. Hong Kong's James Stewart was well on his way to joining Singh and a group of four others on four under, two shots adrift of the leaders, but bogeyed his last hole, the par-four ninth, to finish on 67.