Aaron Rai fires course record to move four clear at Hong Kong Open
By Ali Stafford
Last Updated: 25/11/18 9:40am
Aaron Rai fired a course record to open up a four-shot lead at the Honma Hong Kong Open, as Matt Fitzpatrick made a big move up the leaderboard.
Rai struck nine birdies in a bogey-free 61 in Fanling to get to 14 under and pull clear of nearest challenger Hyowon Park, with Fitzpatrick a further two strokes back in third after a bogey-free 62.
Tommy Fleetwood - the highest-ranked player in the field - sits in a six-way tie for fifth on six under, while Masters champion Patrick Reed made the cut on the mark after birdieing six of his last seven holes.
"We were lucky today with the conditions," Rai said. "We didn't have much wind and starting out pretty early, it was quiet for the first nine holes so it kind of feels like you're playing a round at home, which was nice."
Starting in a three-way tie for the lead and beginning at the 11th hole, Rai opened up with a two-putt par before birdieing his next four holes and adding back-to-back gains from the 18th.
Rai moved further ahead when he followed a five-foot gain at the fourth with a 25-foot birdie at the sixth, increasing his chances of posting only the second sub-60 round in European Tour history.
Those hopes faded when Rai was unable to convert birdie chances over his next two holes, although he got up-and-down to save par at the ninth before finishing by holing from long range at the last.
Fitzpatrick birdied four of his last six holes to get to eight under, while Fleetwood mixed six birdies with a sole blemish in his five-under 65.
Sergio Garcia posted a three-under 67 despite bogeys on two of his final three holes, with defending champion Wade Ormsby also in the group on three under.
Watch the Hong Kong Open throughout the weekend on Sky Sports Golf. Live coverage continues on Saturday from 6am.