Three closing birdies put Juvic Pagunsan in early contention in Hong Kong Open
Juvic Pagunsan was even through 15 holes before making his move.

JUVIC Pagunsan finished with three straight birdies for a three-under 67 to stand three strokes off the pace in the first round of the Hong Kong Open on Thursday.

A former Asian Tour No. 1, Pagunsan was even at the turn after starting in the back nine where he traded a birdie for a bogey, but went on a birdie run from the par-4 No. 7.

The shotmaker from Bacolod hit his second shot on No. 7 to within a foot to get his run going.

The Filipino golfer was tied for 13th with eight others, including Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee, in the tournament co-sanctioned by the European Tour and Asian Tour.

Rafa Cabrera Bello of Spain had an eagle-aided 64 for a one-stroke lead over France’s Sebastien Gros, who also went bogey free at the Hong Kong Golf Club.

Cabrera Bello eagled No. 10 and hit two more birdies on the back nine and two on the front.

“Hong Kong, it’s a memorable tournament for me,” said Pagunsan, who 10 years ago finished second behind Spain’s Jose Manuel Lara and hopes to finally make it to the top this time.

 “I think this course, you know, if you hit like people hit straight, good putting, maybe can score very good on this course.”

“Just keep the ball in the fairway, make putts, if I have an opportunity.”

Miguel Tabuena and Tony Lascuna both fired one-under 69 to join a big group at 31st.

Angelo Que, however, had a tough day and carded a 3-over 73 for joint 97th.  


Follow the writer on Twitter: @spinph