Golf: Bjorn shines in Jakarta, Howell on form in China

JAKARTA (REUTERS) - European Tour players' committee chairman Thomas Bjorn, who shunned his own circuit this week to play on the Asian Tour, shook off the jet lag to grab a share of the first-round lead at the Indonesia Masters on Thursday.

The 44-year-old Dane racked up seven birdies in his six-under-par 66 after some pin-point iron play at the Royal Jakarta Golf Club to join early pacesetter, Chinese Taipei's Chan Shih-chang, at the top of the leader board.

India's Abhijit Chadha was joint third on five-under, helped largely by a hole-in-one on the par three 15th at the US$750,000 (S$1 million) event.

Former world No. 1 Lee Westwood fired a 69 in difficult afternoon conditions where the breeze stiffened to sit in a tie for seventh.

Bjorn was the only one of the 14 members on the players' committee who opted to play in Indonesia, with six taking part at the European Tour's China Open in Shanghai.

One of them, David Howell, fired a four-under-par 68 to share the lead with Wales' Bradley Dredge and New Zealander Michael Hendry. "I'm delighted, it's a really different test this week," the Englishman said.

The 20 million yuan (S$4.35 million) tournament, backed by the European Tour's long term partner Volvo, is lacking in star quality, with England's Tommy Fleetwood (72) the best ranked player in the field at 55.

Bjorn, a 15-times winner on the European Tour, has been struggling for form of late and has not registered a top 20 finish this year, but the Indonesian heat appeared to agree with him and his troublesome shoulder.

"It's nice to come out in the heat, it doesn't hurt so much," he said. "I still feel my shoulder a bit at times, but I feel in pretty good shape. I'm getting back to where I want to be."

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