Suva (Fiji) (AFP) - 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)