Open Champion Shane Lowry found himself singing the praises of Asian Tour No. 1 Jazz Janewattananond on day one of the Hong Kong Open.
The 25-year old Thai-born sensation upstaged Lowry, albeit by a single shot, in posting a two-under par 68 in very windy conditions on the Hong Kong Golf Club course in suburban Fanling.
The duo were out in the morning half of the draw in the $1m Asian Tour event with Jazz, who sensationally won four times during the 2019 Asian Tour year, grabbing four birdies while Lowry managed three.
Jazz ended his year winning the Indonesian Masters, an event he was runner-up in in 2018 – the season-concluding Thailand Masters – to finish 2019 ranked No. 40 in the world.
Lowry was asked after the round his views on Jazz’s game.
“Jazz is a lovely kid and I think the two lads combined were nearly younger than me!” Lowry joked.
“He’s clearly a good talent. He’s well up the world rankings and he’ll be heading over to America to play all the big tournaments and I look forward to seeing him there as well.”
Lowry was teeing-up in Hong Kong for a first occasion since 2010 and like his younger Thai-born playing partner, is also coming off a multi-winning 2019 season.
It was Lowry’s first competitive round since November 24th when he signed for a closing 70 and share of 19th at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.
Lowry, starting from the 11th hole, picked-up birdies at the 15th, 17th and 1st holes but dropped shots at the 16th and fourth holes on the scorecard.
“It was a good day though very, very, very tricky as the wind was quite strong and swirling an awful lot,” he said.
“I was pretty happy out there. I probably should have shot a couple of shots better but anything in the 60s out there today is pretty good.
“It’s a great golf course. We play so many courses around the world. I play on the European Tour and PGA Tour and we play golf courses that you just stand up and don’t even think about and just hit a driver everywhere. But around here you really have to think about it off the tee.
“You know it’s a golf course that if you’re aggressive and you hit good shots you get rewarded but if you hit bad shots you start making bogeys and doubles very quickly. It is a great golf course.
“I’m happy with that as my first round of the year and I think I can build on that nicely over the next few days.”
Lowry’s effort was three strokes fewer than when he last teed-up on the Hong Kong Golf Club course having posted a second round 73 to miss the cut in the 2010 staging of the then co-sanctioned tournament.
“I’m a better player than when I last played the Hong Kong Open and I’m able to manage my way round a course better,” said Lowry.
“We’re having a great week, staying downtown. Lovely time. We haven’t really had the time to explore Hong Kong yet so we’re going to do that this evening.”
Full scoring HERE