Ireland’s Damien McGrane shot a first round 66 to take a one shot lead in the Ballantine’s Championship, Blackstone Golf Club, South Korea.
McGrane leads Chile’s Felipe Aguilar, England’s Richard Finch and home player Park Sang-hyun who each shot opening 67s.
Both Finch and Aguilar were bogey-free in their respective rounds, while Park fired a solitary bogey.
“I made plenty of birdies and I putted nicely,” McGrane said after mixing eight birdies with two bogeys. “I holed everything inside 15 feet, so I made two bogeys which were out of nowhere really but that’s golf I suppose.
The Irishman is searching for his first top-20 finish of the season, with his best finish thus far being his 22nd place in the Volvo China Open last week. His last win came in that same event three years ago.
Scotsman Richie Ramsay and Thailand’s Chinnarat Phadungsil come next; the pair tied for fifth place following 68s, while a four-way tie for seventh spot sees South Korean pair Kim Kyung-tae and Hong Soon-sang tied with England’s James Morrison and Spaniard Carlos Del Moral.
American Dustin Johnson, making a rare appearance on the European Tour, carded a solid opening round of 70, which saw the big-hitting Johnson make three birdies and one bogey to tie for 11th place.
World number one Lee Westwood spearheads the tipster’s challenge and the Worksop player was 3-under par with three holes to play, but finished bogey-par-double bogey to finish his first round level par and sharing 36th place.
Thongchai Jaidee and Robert Jan-Derksen, the other two representatives in the tipster’s three-ball, both opened with 1-over rounds of 73.
Ian Poulter battled back from double-bogeys on his opening two holes to close on 2-over par, while Ernie Els went one better, joining the group tied on 1-over par.
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