Bernie McGuire at Fairmont Resort, St. Andrews
The opening round of the inaugural Asian Tour’s St. Andrews Bay Championship sees a log-jam of six players sharing the lead in the event being staged at the Fairmont Resort on the outskirts of St. Andrews.
Six players – Australia’s Andrew Dodt, the Indian duo of Aniban Lahiri and Veer Ahlawat, Chilean Mito Pereira, Spain’s in-form David Puig and South African Jaco Ahlers – each posted six-under 66s in bright and slightly breezy conditions to lead the way in the $1.5m event.
However on the flipside of the tournament coin, top star Sergio Garcia looks headed for an early exit, nose-diving to the bottom of the field with a shock five-over 77.
Among the six who lead, Pereira pulled off the shot of the day brilliantly chipping-in from 20 feet on the par-five 18th for an eagle in a round that also included five birdies and two bogeys.
“It was nice to finish with the three,” he said. “It all depends on the wind here, you never know, some days are pretty calm, and then you get 30 mile-an-hour winds. Today it was not that windy, at some point it started to blow a lot, I would say it’s the average low wind here. I hope it stays this way.
“This week is the same as all the events, hit well off the tee, be in position and try and make some putts. Today the driver worked pretty well, maybe one bad one.”
This week marks Pereira’s third appearance on the Asian Tour after making his debut on the Tour at the Saudi International in February where he tied for sixth, and a week later he made his maiden International Series appearance in Oman, finishing tied for 11th.
Puig continues to impress after he finished joint fourth in the International Series England last week and was on point again today, impressively making 10 birdies.
“Pretty crazy to make 10 birdies, I have had 10 birdies in a practice round, but I don’t think in a tournament,” said the 21-year-old, who made a double on the par-3 17th and two bogeys also in his round.
“I hit an eight iron on 17 but for sure it was a nine. We never saw it bounce and it disappeared, so we went back to the tee but besides that I played very solidly and finished very strong.
“Today was fair, it wasn’t that windy. I think I have some advantage as I think I hit it pretty far, so the holes into the wind I can get to the green easily and the ones that are down wind I can hit it pretty close to the green, like on nine.”
Meanwhile, Scottish pro John Paterson was presented with a ceremonial flag to commemorate hitting the opening tee shot in this historic inaugural Asian Tour St. Andrews Bay Championship.
Paterson, who qualified for the St. Andrews event with an impressive 63, signed for a two-over 74 and on the occasion of course designer Sam Torrance’s 70th birthday.
Paterson said: “It was good, it was quite nerve wracking, but it was nice to be off early. I felt like there weren’t a lot of people here, but it was good”.