Norfolk’s Andrew Marshall makes encouraging return to European Tour

Norfolk's Andrew Marshall made an encouraging return to the European Tour at the UBS Hong Kong Open yesterday.

The Dereham professional, playing in his first event since the middle of October, opened up with a solid one over par effort of 71 at Fanling.

A round that included just two dropped shots left him in a tie for 54th position – and well placed to make the halfway cut.

Marshall has failed to make the weekend since the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in August and needs a decent pay day this week to boost his chances of retaining his European Tour card.

He currently stands 132nd in the Race to Dubai – with only the top 115 earning playing privileges for 2013. With around 50,000 Euros to make up he would need a top six finish to do it this week.

Spain's Javi Colomo was the shock leader after the first round – with world number one Rory McIlroy nine shots behind and needing a big improvement just to survive the halfway cut.

Colomo is ranked 507th and does not have a European card at present, but the Asian Tour member's six under par 64 left him one ahead of compatriot Miguel Angel Jimenez and Australian Andrew Dodt.

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A tired-looking McIlroy, who last Sunday clinched his European and US Tour money list double, managed only one birdie as he began the defence of a trophy he lifted by holing a bunker shot on the final hole last December.

There was none of that inspired play from the 23-year-old on his return to Fanling. He had to play out left-handed from the trees on the sixth, made a mess of his approach to the 14th and three-putted from the fringe at the next. With bogeys on all three holes he finished the day down in a share of 93rd place in a field of 144 before telling reporters he felt 'lethargic'.

With his wife acting as caddie, Colomo started with 10 pars in a row before picking up birdies at five of the next six and finishing with another.

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