Golf: Food poisoning hits Jimenez's bid for fifth Hong Kong title

Veteran Spanish golfer Miguel Angel Jimenez said he was happy just to get round after a bout of food poisoning curtailed his bid on Thursday for a record fifth Hong Kong Open title. -- PHOTO: AFP
Veteran Spanish golfer Miguel Angel Jimenez said he was happy just to get round after a bout of food poisoning curtailed his bid on Thursday for a record fifth Hong Kong Open title. -- PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG (AFP) - Defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez said he was happy just to get round after a bout of food poisoning curtailed his bid on Thursday for a record fifth Hong Kong Open title.

The Spanish veteran, who is also seeking to become the first golfer to win the event three years in a row, struggled to an opening round of two-over par in the southern Chinese city.

"I've been sick all night, vomiting, and I got no sleep," said Jimenez.

"I ate something that my body reacted badly to. Maybe it was the seafood, maybe it was the meatballs, but I had no chance at all today.

"It's a pity and wasn't the best start but I tried to do my best. I'm a professional and I came here to play even though my body was telling me not to," he added.

The 50-year-old was in obvious discomfort as he traded three bogeys with a birdie on the par-70, 6,699-yard course at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling.

"It was hard to get round," said Jimenez, the oldest winner on the European Tour, said.

"There are a couple of tough slopes out there and I was almost down on my hands and knees."

Jimenez is seeking to become only the fourth player ever to win the same tournament five times but faces an uphill task, lying seven shots behind the early clubhouse leader - Angelo Que.

The Filipino, ranked 343rd in the world, shot a flawless round of 65 that included eight threes.

"This is my first bogey-free round of the year and it's October!" beamed Que.

"I putted like a maniac today. I holed a lot of six footers for par in the first few holes, then I started hitting it better and holing birdies."

Big-hitting Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts started well, finishing with a first-round four-under-par 66.

The US$1.3 million (S$1.65 million) Hong Kong Open is the penultimate event of this season's European Tour and is co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour.

Major winners Ernie Els and Y.E. Yang were playing later.