Macau: Birthday boy Ernie Els of South Africa struck a par-71 to lie three shots behind the leaders after the first round of the Venetian Macau Open on Thursday.
The Big Easy found himself four-over through his opening seven holes but later hit four birdies to make his birthday cake taste sweeter.
Australia`s Scott Barr shared the lead in the $800,000 Asia Tour tournament with Ben Campbell of New Zealand and Finland`s Kalle Samooja.
Barr, 41, produced a measured performance at the Macau olf and Country Club, shooting four birdies against a lone bogey to set the early pace while Campbell shot the tournament`s first hole-in-one.
Els, who turned 44, said after the day`s play: "I have to be happy with that. It was a tough start. It`s still blowing now.
"I started hitting some nice shots, made a little adjustment with my putter and made some three or four footers. All in all, it`s not a bad day. It`s a demanding course. When you`re off, you`re going to make big numbers.
"I always love coming here. It`s a wonderful place in the world to come play golf. I`ve seen the (Asian) Tour grow nicely and there are so many great players now. Golf is such an exciting sport in Asia and you just want to be part of it."
Scores after round 1 of the Venetian Macau Open 2013 being played at the par 71, 6606 Yards Macau GCC course:
68 - Scott Barr (AUS), Kalle Samooja (FIN), Ben Campbell (NZL)
69 - Marcus Both (AUS), Zhang Lian-wei (CHN), Jazz Janewattananond (THA), Prom Meesawat (THA), Siddikur (BAN), Jason Knutzon (USA)
70 - Sujjan Singh(IND), Hung Chien-yao (TPE), Jeev Milkha Singh (IND), Lu Wei-chih (TPE), Elmer Salvador (PHI), Chan Yih-shin (TPE), Chawalit Plaphol (THA), Adam Groom (AUS), Jay Bayron (PHI), Lu Wen-teh (TPE), James Byrne (SCO), Simon Griffiths (ENG)
71 - Ernie Els (RSA), Ryan McCarthy (AUS), Sam Brazel (AUS), Daisuke Kataoka (JPN), Tsai Chi-huang (TPE), Nicolas Meitinger (GER), Rory Hie (INA), Sutijet Kooratanapisan (THA), Liang Wen-chong (CHN), Antonio Lascuna (PHI), Baek Seuk-hyun (KOR), Lee Sung (KOR), Anthony Kang (USA), Adam Blyth (AUS), Thammanoon Sriroj(THA)