Golf Andrea Pavan and Lu Wei-chih lead Hong Kong Open

Rounds of 64 put Andrea Pavan and Lu Wei-chih at the top of the leaderboard after the first day of the Hong Kong Open.

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The unheralded Andrea Pavan and Lu Wei-chih were surprise joint-leaders after the first round of the Hong Kong Open, while Justin Rose also made a strong start on Thursday.

Pavan and Lu are ranked 661st and 786th in the world respectively, but set the pace at the Hong Kong Golf Club by carding six-under-par rounds of 64.

Lu feared his golf career was over after undergoing brain surgery in 2012 and has endured a difficult road to recovery, but the 36-year-old had a day to remember as he made three birdies on the front nine and another five on the home stretch.

"The doctor said after the surgery, there's no quick fix; no pill that can really make the recovery much quicker," Lu said. "It all depends on the exercise and nutrition, and it's going to take a long time to recover physically. I just have to be patient.

"For the last two years, because of my brain tumour surgery, I can only play two events and then have to rest. But this is my sixth week, so this is very much a challenge for me; the longest stretch since my surgery."

Pavan must finish in the top two to avoid Qualifying School and retain his European Tour card. The Italian made a promising start, with seven birdies and just the one bogey putting him atop the leaderboard with Lu.

CT Pan would have joined Pavan and Lu in a share of the lead but for a bogey at 18, while Jeev Milkha Singh birdied the last to also move just a shot off the pace along with Rose at five under.

World number seven Rose picked up four shots on the back nine in a blemish-free opening round to put himself firmly in contention, with Graeme McDowell is among six players a further shot back.

Ian Poulter is three under, having made a late dash to take his place in the tournament courtesy of Rich Beem, who stepped aside to allow the Englishman to compete and keep his hopes of featuring at next year's Ryder Cup alive.

Poulter would have fallen short of playing in the minimum 13 European Tour events needed to retain his membership for next season had he not featured in Hong Kong, which would have rendered him ineligible to play for Europe against the United States at the Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota.

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