Rafa Cabrera Bello holds one-shot lead at Hong Kong Open
By Ali Stafford
Last Updated: 09/12/16 9:46am
Rafa Cabrera Bello fired a bogey-free 64 to open up a one-shot lead after the opening round of the Hong Kong Open.
The Spaniard mixed four birdies with an eagle to set the clubhouse target ahead of nearest challenger Sebastien Gros, with English pair Jordan Smith and Tommy Fleetwood part of the group two strokes off the pace.
Beginning at the 11th hole, Cabrera Bello posted back-to-back birdies from the 16th before adding gains at the first and third to move alongside early pacesetter David Lipsky.
Lipsky carded five birdies in a six-hole stretch from the first but dropped a shot at the 10th - his final hole - to close a 66, as Cabrera Bello holed out from the same fairway for an eagle-two to move top of the leaderboard.
"That was a very nice way to finish," Cabrera Bello said. "I have never really finished a round like that, so it felt nice.
"I played really smart today, made very little mistakes. I didn't give myself in trouble off the tee. I was in control of the round all day and putted nicely, too, so it was nice work out there."
Gros birdied his final hole to close a blemish-free 65 and claim outright second, with the top 21 players sit within three strokes of the lead.
Masters champion Danny Willett and Ian Poulter posted a two-under 68 to sit four shots back, while defending champion Justin Rose and top seed Patrick Reed are level par.
Rose, who said he was making "good progress" in his recovery from a back injury, was inches away from making the first albatross of the season when his approach in to the par-five 13th rattled the flag but stayed out.
"I was pretty happy with that to be honest," Rose said. "I felt good with my body out there. I felt like it hit a lot of good golf shots and just really struggled on the greens."
Watch the Hong Kong Open throughout the week live on Sky Sports 4 - your home of golf. Live coverage begins on Friday from 6am.