Gavin trails Koepka in Shanghai

Gavin Kyle Green ©Scott Halleran|Getty

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s Gavin Green fired a seven-under-par 65 to stay one shot back of American Brooks Koepka after the first round of the US$9.75 million WGC-HSBC Champions on Thursday.

The 23-year-old had shared the clubhouse lead with Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat until Koepka stormed home with two birdies in his closing three holes to take the opening day honours at the Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, China.

Green, who currently leads the Asian Tour Order of Merit where he has won once and finished runner-up three times this season, was one of four players who was bogey-free in the opening round.

“It’s my first time here and my first WGC event. I’m enjoying he opportunity and just trying to play some good golf. I got out today and just got going and enjoying my golf. When I was out of position, I put it back in play and wedged it close and made a putt. I made a couple of good putts today, which obviously helped,” said Green, who is making his sixth PGA Tour start this week.

Like his first round efforts in Korea last week, Green found himself in another similar position on the leaderboard again. While he fell out of contention after that, the current Asian Tour Order of Merit leader is hopeful of doing better this week.

“I hope to keep that going. Obviously looking back at the last two weeks, I felt like I’ve been trying to maybe step on it a little bit more than I should. I’ve been trying to push for it and obviously it did not coming out the way I wanted to. So I’m taking a different approach this time. I’m just going to enjoy my first WGC event with Dad’s on the bag and sticking to the game plan,” he added.

Defending champion Hideki Matsuyama of Japan had a round to forget after he posted a 74 to end the day in tied-67th place while China’s Wu Ashun emerged as the leading Chinese in tied-sixth place after he returned with a 67.