Date: November 15, 2007

Strange leads Aussie charge

Scott Strange leads the charge of the Australian brigade after the opening round of the Hong Kong Open, but it was a Korean ace who stole the show on day one. Strange is in a share of eighth place after he carded a round of 66 to be four-under-par, three shots adrift of K J Choi who sizzled with 62. Choi&aposs eight-under-par round gave him the outright lead with three rounds remaining, one clear of Gary Houston of Wales and two strokes up on Swedes Robert Karlsson and Fredrik Andersson Hed. Of the other Australians, Marcus Fraser and Unho Park both settled in to their respective rounds quickly and managed to end the day three-under-par. Gary Simpson (69) was the only other Aussie to break par on day one, however. A host of players, including big name Stuart Appleby (71), found the going tough at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling. Richard Moir, Brad Kennedy and Adam Groom closed even with the card while Marcus Both, Adam Le Vesconte and Mitchell Brown were locked away with Appleby at one-over-par. Tony Carolan completes the Australian contingent. He had a day to forget with a 76. Early in the day&aposs play Kang Wook Soon provided a blast from the past. The last Asian player to win the tournament, in 1998, fired a five-under-par 65 to excite the fans. Karlsson fired a bogey-free first round 66, while compatriot Andersson Hed stormed out of the blocks with four straight birdies to begin his round before dropping two shots against eight birdies. “I am very pleased because I have never really done any good around here before,” said Karlsson. “I&aposve actually tried to avoid this tournament in the past because I&aposve done too badly, I think I&aposve only played it twice before.” “I played two pro-ams this week, on Monday and Wednesday, and I really tried to play them as tournament rounds to see what I had to do differently to get around this golf course.” “I just tried to find the keys and played a lot more conservative of the tees, hitting a lot more irons and only using the driver twice.” Scotland&aposs Marc Warren shot a first round four-under-par 66, while 2000 Hong Kong Open champion Simon Dyson is a further shot back and 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir at one-under. Northern Ireland&aposs European Tour rookie Rory McIlroy, playing in his first event as a full card carrying member of the Tour, made a storming start to his first round with an eagle at the 551 yard par-five third and was three-under through eight holes after adding a birdie at the par-four sixth. He closed at one-under-par. The 18-year-old earned his card in just his second Tour event by finishing third at the Dunhill Links Championship, just two weeks after turning pro at the British Masters.