|Juvic Pagunsan is just three strokes off the current leader.|
MANILA--Juvic Pagunsan is within striking distance of a podium finish in the Tokyo Olympics men' golf event as he began his campaign on a solid note on Thursday.
Pagunsan, the reigning Mizuno Cup champion, finished five-under-par 66 after the first round, tying Joachim Hansen of Denmark and Jhonattan Vegas of Venezuela for fifth place.
The three golfers are three strokes off leader Sepp Straka of Austria, who finished with an eight-under-par 63.
Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand is second with seven-under-par 64, while Thomas Pieters of Belgium and Carlos Ortiz of Mexico are tied for third with six-under-par 65 with three rounds to play.
It was a near flawless performance for Pagunsan in Round 1, beginning his stint with a birdie in the Par 4 Hole 1.
He also birdied Holes 6, 8, 11, 13, and 16.
Only a bogey in the Par 3 Hole 4 kept Pagunsan from moving closer to the top spot.
American golfer Justin Thomas, the top seeded player for the event, struggled in the opening stage, just finishing even-71, good for a tie for 41st place.
Second seed Collin Morikawa had a slightly better performance than his fellow American, finishing two-under-par 69 following two straight birdies in Holes 5 and 6 and another in Hole 15 that canceled out his bogey at Hole 12.
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