Queenslander Maverick Antcliff trails a leading trio by one shot at the Mercuries Taiwan Masters after opening with a three-under-par 69 yesterday.
South African Justin Harding continued his dazzling form by carding four-under 68 to share the opening round lead with Lionel Weber of France and Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines.
Harding, the first player to win consecutive events on the Asian Tour this season, fired one eagle and four birdies against two bogeys to take his share of place atop the leaderboard at the fabled Taiwan Golf and Country Club, which is celebrating its centennial year in 2018.
“I played the golf course conservatively,” Harding said. “It’s a hard golf course. It’s got quite a bit of shape. I kind of felt like I played my way back on a few occasions today which is good. I kind of stuck to my game plan and then made a couple of putts.”
Local hero Lin Wen-tang, Indian hotshot S.S.P. Chawrasia and Chinese ace Liang Wen-chong were among those bunched in fifth following matching rounds of 70s at the US$850,000 event.
RIGHT: Harding shares the lead after the opening round of the Taiwan Masters after carding four-under 68. PHOTO: Supplied/Asian Tour.
Starting from the par-3 10th hole, the 32-year-old Harding sank two birdies against a bogey to turn in 35. He fired another two birdies and an eagle on the par-5 7th before dropping a shot on his last hole (9th).
Tabuena, who came close to winning the storied event before settling for second place in 2016, renewed his love affair with the Tamsui course after marking his card with five birdies against a bogey. He is chasing his second Asian Tour victory in a country where he had finished second on four different occasions.
Weber rediscovered some of his best form after closing with two straight birdies to grab a share of the lead. Placed 96th on the latest Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings, the 28-year-old needs a strong performance this week to possibly break into top-60 and retain his card for the 2019 season.