HONG KONG — S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 season.

Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

“Very tough conditions today,” Chawrasia said. “It’s very firm greens, to be honest. I’m just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.”

Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

“Hit it great tee to green,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it’s so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.”

Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

“I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,” Rose said. “I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.”

Masters champion Sergio Garcia, Rafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.

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BRIDGETTE HALL
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