Date: November 20, 2008

Solid starts for Kulacz, Fraser

Australian duo Rick Kulacz and Marcus Fraser have finished the first round of the Hong Kong Open three shots off the lead. The pair both reeled off three-under-par 67s and are within striking distance of pace-setters Liang Wen-chong and Richard Sterne who are sitting on six-under after recording 64s. Kulacz&aposs first day was highlighted by three birdies and an eagle which were offset by bogeys at the 1st and 6th while Fraser, whose only blemishes occurred at the 9th and 11th, reeled off five birdies. Their compatriots Marcus Both, Darren Beck and Gavin Flint are all a shot further back on two-under. Wen-chong is bidding to become the first Asian to win the event in a decade and gave his chances of achieving that a shot in the arm with an impressive round at the Hong Kong Golf Club. Starting on the 10th tee Liang, 30, made the ideal start with a birdie before adding another three on the 12th, 13th and 18th to reach the turn at four-under. It appeared the 2007 Asian Tour Order of Merit winner would complete a faultless round as he picked up another three birdies coming home but bogeyed the par-four 8th when he three-putted after reaching the green in two. “My performance today was good but there are still three days left,” said Liang. “My putting feels good and I have been very patient in taking every hole step-by-step.” Filipino Frankie Minoza (five-under) is in a tie for second spot with Taiwanese Lin Wen-tang. Wang Ter-chang, who had changed his putter prior to the tournament after drawing inspiration from Phil Mickelson at the Singapore Open last week, finished two shots behind Liang and Sterne at four-under alongside Thailand&aposs Chawalit Plaphol, Italian Francesco Molinari and Englishman Oliver Wilson. Wilson&aposs countryman Oliver Fisher carded six birdies against three bogeys to return to the clubhouse at three-under-par with Kulacz, Fraser, Swede Peter Hanson, Thailand&aposs Chinnarat Phadungsil, Minoza&aposs countryman Artemio Murakami and Mikko Ilonen of Finland. Two-time Major winner John Daly enjoyed a solid round as the American carded a two-under-par 68 and is among a group of eight players tied for eighth. “I felt like I putted well,” said the 42-year-old. “I made five or six one-putts meaning I hit a lot of greens. I am pretty happy with that.” Playing in his first European Tour event for over a year, Nick Faldo reeled off three successive birdies from second but three bogeys and a double-bogey on the par-three 8th meant the 51-year-old finished two-over-par.