Card chasers Phelan and Lawrie solid but unspectacular in Hong Kong

Card chasers Phelan and Lawrie solid but unspectacular in Hong Kong

Kevin Phelan on the 16th in Hong Kong. Picture: Thos Caffrey /

Kevin Phelan and Peter Lawrie made solid if unspectacular starts to the Hong Kong Open as they battle to retain their European Tour cards.

Phelan matched Damien McGrane in carding a one under 69 at Hong Kong Golf Club but that was only good enough for a share of 44th, five shots behind India's Jyoti Randhawa.

Lawrie had four birdies in a level par 70 that leaves him just inside the top 65 who make the cut.

But what both men need is a massive performance this week to take the pressure off heading into the final counting regular season event of the year in Australia next week.

Phelan is 152nd in the Race to Dubai and €112,627 outside the top 110 who will keep their cards while Lawrie is 174th and almost €158,000 short of safety.

With €171,843 on offer for the winner this week and around €245,000 for the winner of the ISPS HANDA Perth International in Australia, both can still avoid a trip to PGA Catalunya Resort for the Q-School finals next month.

As for the Hong Kong Open, Randhawa stormed home in  five under 31 for a six under par 64 and a one-shot lead over Filipino Angelo Que, a three-time winner on the co-sanctioning Asian Tour.

“For me it’s really awesome,” said Randhawa, who fired his approach to five feet at the 17th and sank a 15 footer at the last for consecutive closing birdies. “Today I really putted my heart out so I’m very happy with the way it went.”

Nicolas Colsaerts, who finished fourth in Wales and second in Portugal on his last two starts, carded five birdies and a single bogey in his four under par 66 to sit third in a large group tied for third that also includes four-time Major winner Ernie Els.