Nick Voke has eagled the par-5 18th to card an opening round of five-under 65 and take a one-stroke lead at the season-ending RMB 2 million Clearwater Bay Open.

This is a great start for the Kiwi who is aiming for a top-five finish on the Order of Merit to secure a place on next year’s Web.com Tour or a top-10 place to enter the Final Stage of qualifying (Voke currently fifth on the PGA TOUR Series-China Order of Merit).

The 23-year-old burst onto the Tour in sensational fashion when he tied for fourth at the Suzhou Open early last month, then won the Qinhuangdao Championship and Macau Championship, before fading to a tie for 16th at last week’s Zhuhai Championship.

Now World No. 327 and New Zealand’s fourth-ranked player, Voke began his bid for a third win in four PGA TOUR Series-China events at Clearwater Bay with birdies at Nos. 5, 9 and 11, went bogey-birdie at 14 and 15, before a stunning eagled capped a round in which the rookie pro missed only one fairway and two greens in regulation.

“I’m pretty stoked to be honest as it was very challenging out there. The course was playing very tricky and the wind just makes it all the more difficult. I played some really smart golf and I was executing some good shots, plus a nice little eagle on the last,” said Voke, the only player to eagle the 550-yard dog-leg left.

“It’s a very difficult driving hole and off the tee there’s a bunker about 330 yards to carry, plays downhill 25 [yards], so 305 yards with this wind. I thought it might be touch and go, so I tried to hit a little fade from left to right, but I hit it dead straight and I’m thinking, ‘Oh no, please don’t go in’, but flew it by miles. I had 163 yards in, hit a 7-iron to 12 foot and holed it, so a good way to end.”

Voke’s previous appearance at Clearwater Bay was at the 2015 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, where he tied for 19th after a poor finish in an event reduced to 54 holes. “I was in contention, but just blew apart and finished seven-nine-four, so it was nice to finish three-four-three today.”




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