Fanling, Hong Kong (SportsNetwork.com) - David Higgins fired a 6-under 64 on Thursday to claim a 1-stroke lead at the end of the first round of the Hong Kong Open.
The 31-year-old is seeking his first career win on the European Tour.
"I just played solid tee to green, holed some lovely putts and had a chip in," Higgins said about his round. "If you're going to have a score like that, you have to do some good stuff. You've got to use your imagination; let it run out a little bit, maybe use a slope here and there, so it's good for me. It's a great test of golf."
Andrea Pavan carded a 5-under 65 at Hong Kong Golf Club to sit alone in second place, while Prom Meesawat, Andrew Dodt, Chih-Bing Lam, Seve Benson, Mardan Mamat, Adam Gee and Sujjan Singh shot matching 4-under 66s to share third.
Defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez managed an even-par 70 during his opening round and sits among a large group of players tied for 44th.
Higgins started with a par at 11th before rolling in consecutive gains at the 12th and 13th to reach 3-under. After tripping to a bogey at the 15th, the Irishman reeled off three straight birdies from the 16th to make the turn at 4-under.
A bogey at the first dropped him back to 3-under, but he bounced back with birdies at Nos. 3, 6 and 7 to jump to 6-under. Higgins bogeyed the ninth, but came right back with a birdie at the 10th.
Pavan, meanwhile, recorded four birdies during an outward 32 to make the turn at 4-under.
He would later reach 6-under with a pair of birdies at the fourth and seventh, but also ended his day with a bogey at the par-4 ninth to finish a shot behind Higgins.
"I started off well and hit it close many times on my front nine," said Pavan. "I was 4-under and playing pretty flawless golf, but I made a few mistakes towards the end. Overall, though, it's a good round and I'm pleased."
Dodt and Meesawat had earlier played in the morning wave and set the clubhouse mark. Meesawat traded three bogeys with seven birdies during his round, while Dodt posted six birdies and two bogeys.
NOTES: Higgins is a three-time winner on the European Challenge Tour ... Dodt and Higgins are each seeking to regain their European Tour cards after failing to hang on to them at the end of last season ... Jimenez is a three-time winner of this event, having also captured the title in 2005 and 2008.