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European Tour: A Spanish Invasion in Hong Kong

Jose Maria Olazabal

Mitchell Gunn-US PRESSWIRE

With most of the field in the clubhouse before the rains came to the UBS Hong Kong Open on Thursday, the Spaniards had made an assault on the leaderboard. Leading the charge at 6 under par is 28 year old Javier Colomo, and one stroke back in a tie for second place is the elder statesman Miguel Angel Jimenez. Two strokes back in a tie for fourth place is Team Europe Ryder Cup Captain, Jose Maria Olazabal.

The UBS Hong Kong Open is the last opportunity for players to collect valuable Race to Dubai points. Even though they don’t make the tournament, their ranking, like the top 125 on the PGA Tour, is used to earn 2013 Cards without going through the Q-School

Colomo started his day at the 11th hole, and got on the par train for ten consecutive holes before making a birdies at the par 5 third hole, and par 4 fourth. He went on a birdie run again, getting three in a row starting at number six. He ended his day by making a four foot birdie putt at the tenth hole for a 6 under par 64 on the Hong Kong Golf Club.

Javier has failed three times to get his European Tour card through the Q-School, and qualified for this tournament through his standing on the Asian Tour. With a 33 ranking on the Asian Tour, he will qualify for co-sanctioned events with the European Tour next year.

Countryman Miguel Angel Jimenez made his way around the 6730 yard venue making seven birdies to go with bogeys at nine and ten for an opening round five under par 65. That was good for a second place tie with Australian Andrew Dodt.

Jose Maria Olazabal completed the Spanish invasion with an opening four under par 66, and a piece of fourth place. The Ryder Cup Captain started at the first hole with a double bogey, but immediately righted the ship, and with six birdies, finished in a tie for fourth place with Lian-wei Zhang from China, Fredrik Anderssen Hed from Sweden, Y.E. Yang, and Lorenzo Gagli from Italy.

Zhang started his day at the tenth hole with a double bogey six, but went bogey free the remainder for the day, making six birdies for his share of second place.

2012 Players Champion, Matt Kuchar was the highest finishing American in Hong Kong.  Kuchar shot an opening round 69, that was good enough for a  27th place tie.

World Number One, and UBS Hong Kong defending champion, Rory McIlroy,  was busy collecting trophies and awards on Thursday, and shot an opening round three over par 73 and a 93rd place tie. McIlroy managed only one birdie on the day that came at the par 5 third hole.

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