Seven-way tie for lead in Fiji International golf tournament

Suva: Australians performed strongly as the first round of the inaugural Fiji International at Natadola Bay ended with a seven-way split for the lead on Thursday.

Of the seven players who shot a four-under-par 68, six were Australian, with Wang Ming-hao of China the only non-Antipodean with a share of top spot.

A further 11 players were one shot back on 69.

Jake Higginbottom, in a share of the lead, said conditions at the US$1.0 million tournament, the largest sporting event ever staged in the Pacific island nation, were perfect for him and his Australian compatriots.

"We got a little bit lucky with the weather, which allowed us to get scores like that," he said.

Local hero Vijay Singh, a three-time major champion who designed the course, ended the day well off the pace with a one-over 73, leaving him 52nd in the tournament, which is co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia and OneAsia.

"It was a very interesting round I would say," he said. "I made three doubles, I don`t know the last time I did that in a round of golf but for some reason my driver wasn`t working.

"I`m very disappointed in my round but what the hell, that`s the way it goes and there`s three days to go."
Leading first-round scores (Australian unless stated)

68 - Stephen Dartnall, Rhein Gibson, Jason Scrivener, Wang Ming-hao (CHN), Andrew Dodt, David McKenzie, Jake Higginbottom

69 - Steve Jeffress, Jamie Arnold, Ryan Fox (NZL), Richard Lee (CAN), Jason Norris, Nathan Holman, Stephen Leaney, Callan O`Reilly, David Brandsdon, Lucas Lee (BRA), Jason Kang (USA)