Royal Dublin’s Niall Kearney got off to a superb start in the first round of the Asian Tour Qualifying School presented by Sports Authority of Thailand on Wednesday.
The two time Irish Professional champion bogeyed the first and third on the Lake Course at Springfield Royal Country Club but erased those errors with five birdies in a three under 68 worth a share of 18th place in the race to finish in the top 40 who get full cards after 72 holes.
Kearney birdied the second, fifth and eighth to turn in 34 and then picked up two more shots coming home with further birdies at the 10th and 11th.
Korea’s Yikeun Chan made three eagles in a nine under par 63 on the Springfield Royal Course to lead by one stroke from American Kevin McLister with another American, Tom Johnson, alone in third after a 65.
A total of 244 players teed it up in the Final Stage where the top-40 and ties will earn an Asian Tour card for the 2016 season.
The first two rounds are played over the Imperial Lakeview and Springfield Royal courses with the top-100 and ties qualifying for the final two rounds at Springfield Royal
Chang, 22, hit an eight iron to three feet at the fifth to set up the first of his three eagle threes before holing a five-footer on 12 and a 20-footer on the 18th.
“This is the first time I had three eagles in a round,” he said. "I eagled all the par-fives at the Springfield Royal Country Club. I hit the ball really good. I knew I had to hit it good on the front nine because it gets pretty tough when the wind gets up on the back nine.
"I was trying to hit the greens and make putts out there.”
Kearney came through the first stage of the Asian Tour Q-School with just a shot to spare at Springfield Royal last Saturday but Headfort’s Rory McNamara missed out by eight shots at nearby Windsor Park on one over.