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29 November 2002

RANDHAWA SHARES LEAD IN OMEGA HONG KONG OPEN

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India's Jyoti Randhawa showed why he is currently <br/>ranked the top golfer in Asia by taking a share of the lead in the Omega Hong Kong Open at the Hong Kong Golf Club.

Randhawa, who moved into top spot on the Davidoff Tour Order of Merit last Sunday after finishing second in Taiwan, fired a seven-under-par 62 to lead the US$700,000 event along with veteran Zimbabwean Tony Johnstone (65), Taiwan's Wang Ter-chang (64), Swedes Marten Olander (64) and Klas Eriksson


(64), Welshman Stephen Dodd (65) and Norway's Henrik Jornstad (62).



"It was a good round today with seven birdies and no bogeys - obviously I am pretty happy with that one. I swung it better than yesterday and holed the putts," said Randhawa. The Indian played the back nine in five-under-par 30 and is nine under for the tournament, which is joint-sanctioned by the Asian PGA-run Davidoff Tour and the European Tour.



"My wife (Tina) caddied for me today as my caddie (and yoga teacher) Sukhdev Singh had to go for a visa so he can carry the bag next week in the season ending tournament in Malaysia. Tina obviously brought me luck and I think I will ask her to caddie for me at the weekend."



The Indian, a four-time winner on the Davidoff Tour, leads the Merit list by just over US$11,000 from Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee. With Thongchai finishing right on the cut line at one under, thanks to a birdie on the last, Randhawa is in the drivers' seat.



Johnstone, aged 46, is chasing his first win on the European Tour since 1998. "It's a long time since I have seen my name on the top of the leaderboard. It's a nice feeling. At any stage in my career if you'd have said to me I wasn't going to have this feeling again I would have got rid of the clubs


and stopped playing I think. You look for the smell of battle really and I can smell battle at the moment and that is what I was born for," said Johnstone.



American Clay Devers and Frenchman Thomas Levet, runner-up in this year's British Open, are one off the lead. Six-time Major winner Nick Faldo from England gave himself a chance by


firing a 65 to lie four off the lead.



"I plan to play real aggressive going into the weekend. Just go for everything that is the goal and see what I can do. That is plan A," said Faldo, who tasted victory the last time he played in Hong Kong in the 1990 Johnnie Walker Classic.



Defending champion Jose Maria Olazabal of Spain shot a 65 and is four under. "I am still a little far behind. Five shots is quite a lot, not because five shots is a lot but because there are a lot of people on nine under. It will be difficult for everybody not to do well. Obviously I will have to play my best at the weekend in order to have a chance. I was really happy with the way I hit the ball today," said the two-time US Masters champion.



Ireland's Peter Lawrie shot the first hole in one on the new European Tour season and the 101st, and his second, on the Asian PGA-run Davidoff Tour.



Lawrie holed his five iron at the eighth hole, measuring 191 yards. Unfortunately there was no prize for his effort, although a Mercedes Benz CLK 320 is on offer for the first player to ace the 15th hole this week. Lawrie went on to eagle the par-five ninth hole.



"The hole in one and the eagle certainly got the round going," said the 28-year-old. "Nobody but my playing partners and the caddies saw the hole in one but that does not matter." Lawrie won a car when he holed in one at the 1999 Philippine Open.

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