Honma Hong Kong Open

Local star Leon D’Souza hopeful of better display after encouraging start at Hong Kong Open

The 18-year-old Hong Kong star’s two-over par is the best round for the local players while Taichi Kho and veteran James Stewart are off to a rough start

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 November, 2017, 7:37pm
UPDATED : Monday, 27 November, 2017, 11:40am

As night falls over day one of the UBS Hong Kong Open, 19-year-old Leon D’Souza can hold his head up high after hitting an impressive two-over-par 72.

“It feels good,” said D’Souza, who qualified for the Open after winning the Hong Kong Open Amateur title early in the year. “It was quite good with the long game – I had about 14 or 15 greens – but I just didn’t hold any putts.

“That’s what is missing; if I could make a few more birdies, then the game is there.”

D’Souza was unfazed by the late finish despite not being able to fully see the hole on the 18th.

“It was dark, but I know the course quite well so it was okay. The stroke is good but I wasn’t dialled in on my speed – my putts were just a little short. I’ll work on that tomorrow.”

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With the cut looming after round two on Friday, D’Souza hopes his performance can help rally the Hong Kong troops lagging behind the pack.

“I want the other guys to do well, so hopefully they can bring it tomorrow and we’re all here for the weekend.”

It’s back to the drawing board for Hong Kong’s Taichi Kho and James Stewart, who got off to a rough start after teeing off this morning.

The pair – playing alongside each other for the first time – signed off on a six over par 76 after struggling through the swirly Fanling winds.

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“It was pretty tough in these conditions,” said a disappointed Kho. “The fairways were a lot firmer than what I’m accustomed to, I didn’t read the greens well and I had a few wrong club choices off the tee.

17-year-old Kho made a promising Open debut before throwing a spanner in the works at the sixth and ninth.

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“Two really big numbers on the card killed my momentum, and that was caused by my two tee shots.

“The key for tomorrow is to have a better club choice off the tee and get that swing back.”

Veteran James Stewart had no qualms about the wind; rather, it was the short game that let him down.

“I felt comfortable out there, I just putted horrendously,” said the 42-year-old, who is competing in his fifteenth Hong Kong Open.

“I just need to get back to the putting green and figure things out.”

Despite the high scoring affair, local golf fans would have been encouraged after seeing two sets of Hong Kong golf generations in Kho and Stewart.

Stewart, a four-time winner of the Hong Kong Professional Golfers’ Association (HKPGA) order of merit and three-time Hong Kong world cups representative, will undoubtedly share some words of wisdom to Hong Kong’s most promising young golfer.

“I got to see his game and he’s got good potential,” said Stewart. “At 17 years old, I wasn’t playing in the Hong Kong Open, that’s for sure.”

Matthew Cheung Hung-hai finished the day on five over, and Wong Woon-man rounded off the Hong Kong representatives with an eight over par.