Veteran two-time winner Dominique Boulet takes first round lead at Hong Kong PGA Championship

The 51-year-old cards an opening round of three-under-par 67 over the new course at Fanling to top a congested leaderboard

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 January, 2017, 5:00pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 January, 2017, 11:21pm

Veteran Dominique Boulet played down his chances of landing a third Hong Kong PGA Championship despite the home favourite taking a one-shot lead over defending champion Scott Barr and Wong Woon-man after Wednesday’s first round at Fanling.

The 51-year-old Hong Kong Golf Club member, who last won the title in 2004, fired a three-under-par 67 over the New Course to top a crowded leaderboard.

Four-time champion Unho Park of Australia and three-time Asian Tour winner Anthony Kang of the United States lie in a share of fourth two shots off the pace, while former Hong Kong Amateur champion Steven Lam returned a solid one-over-par 71 in his first round as a professional.

“I was grinding out there, but I enjoyed it. To have the nerves tingling and to come in with a good score is a nice feeling,” said Boulet, who is now a prominent television commentator having played professionally for 13 years.

“I didn’t hit it that solidly to be honest, but I kept it under control and didn’t miss anything on the greens.

“I haven’t been playing that well, but if I get it going I know how to hang on, which is something you learn after all those years on tour.

Q&A with Dominique Boulet

“There’s a long way to go – I’d love to [win it again], but Scott, Unho and Anthony are the class players in this field.

“Can I beat those guys over the next 36 holes? I don’t think so – everything has to go right for me, but let’s see. I’m just enjoying having a nice score.”

The second round will be held over the Eden Course at the Hong Kong Golf Club on Thursday, with the all-important final round to be staged at Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club on Friday.

“I didn’t have my swing over the first few holes, but I played nicely on the back nine and was able to make a few putts, so that’s a good sign,” said 44-year-old Singapore-based Australian Barr, who claimed the title 12 months ago after four consecutive runner-up finishes.

Australian Scott Barr eyes second straight title at Hong Kong PGA Championship

“It’s nice to be able to come back and defend – it was great to win last year and get my year off to a nice start. I’m looking forward to the rest of the tournament and remaining in contention.”

Wong joins Barr tied at two-under-par after remarkably holing out from the fairway twice in successive holes for back-to-back eagles at the fifth and sixth holes of his first round.

Fellow Hong Kong professional Wong Hoi-kin also had a round to remember after acing the par three eighth en route to a disappointing 80.