England’s Matt Fitzpatrick believes he is right on track to erase his Dubai disappointment after an opening 66 in the Hong Kong Open.
Fitzpatrick, 23, led by a shot at halfway in the defence of his DP World Tour Championship title last week, but struggled to a third round of 72 and eventually finished 12th.
That was still his seventh straight top-15 finish since he won the Omega European Masters and a round containing six birdies and two bogeys at Fanling left him a shot behind leader SSP Chawrasia.
“It’s a good start to the week,” Fitzpatrick told europeantour.com. “It’s not an easy course and listening to Justin Rose talking after the pro-am, he said four rounds of four under would be a good score. I’d definitely take that right now and see where you end up.
“I hit it great tee to green, think I had seven or eight chances inside 15 feet and on a day like today when it’s so windy it was a good day.
“We had a bit of a crowd with us which was great. People are going to be following Tommy [Fleetwood] seeing as he won the Race to Dubai last week.
“I played with Tommy in my first start as a pro so we have known each other for quite some time and it’s always good to play with him.”
Four days after being crowned European No. 1 for the first time, Fleetwood shrugged off the effects of playing his fifth event in a row with a 68 matched by Race to Dubai rival Rose.
“Everything felt good,” said Fleetwood, who finished just 58,821 points ahead of Olympic champion Rose on the money list.
“It was nice out there, on such a tough day, to have quite a few chances and be stress-free for the most part. My putting felt really good and I had a few that burnt the edge.
“It would have been nice for them to drop but we’ve got another three days for them to drop.”
Rose, who won in Hong Kong in 2015, looked on course to finish ahead of Fleetwood until a bogey on the 18th, where he failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker.
“It was an interesting round because I made five birdies, all of them from two feet,” Rose said. “I stuffed it in there five times but didn’t really make putts of any distance.
“That was as tough as I have played this golf course today. It was very tricky and at this time of day, the greens get a little tough to read. It was a shame to miss the par putt on the last but other than that I am quite pleased with two under and a steady start.”
Masters champion Sergio Garcia also bogeyed the tricky 18th in a round of 69.