Thailand’s Poom Saksansin, winner of the Asian Tour’s final event of 2018, continued to strike while his irons are hot with a first round 65 to go joint top of the leaderboard at the season-opening SMBC Singapore Open on Friday.
Poom, whose victory at the Indonesian Masters in December elevated him to 13th on the moneylist, brilliantly birdied four of his last five holes at Sentosa Golf Club when first round play restarted on Friday morning.
The threat of lightning caused another one hour 45 minute delay, after the more than three hour interruption on Thursday, but that did not unsettle Poom, who birdied the 18th after the enforced break.
That took him level with Japan’s Taihei Sato, who also completed his first round 65 on Friday morning. Sato graduated to the main Japan Tour after topping the moneylist on the secondary Abema TV Tour last season and underlined his potential by going bogey-free in the opening round.
Poom, who birdied the last three holes, and Sato are one shot clear of Chinese Taipei duo Hung Chien-Yao, the overnight clubhouse leader, and Chan Shih-Chang.
EurAsia Cup captain Arjun Atwal of India and Thailand’s Phachara Khongwatmai joined a big group on four under 67 after completing their rounds on Friday.
Japan’s Shotaro Wada and Kunihiro Kamii were threatening the first round lead midway through their back nines.
Poom was playing alongside England’s Paul Casey, who he defeated in the singles at last year’s EurAsia Cup contest, and got the better of the world number 24 once again.
However, Casey – the top ranked player in the field – also had reason to smile with his morning’s work as he snared three birdies to card a 68.
“That was a 22-hour round of golf, I’m glad I’ve got the first round done. I feel good,” said Casey. “The golf course has changed though, with so much rain overnight. The ground crew and everybody here should be applauded, because it’s still in fabulous shape. But it feels like it’s getting a little bit trickier out there.
“We’ve got a great looking leaderboard, with some favourite names right up there. Poom, my nemesis – I lost to him in the EurAsia Cup and he’s just played a marvelous round of golf again, I can’t seem to beat the guy, but I’m in good spirits.”
Poom said he was pleased with his efforts.
“I am very happy. I came back to resume my round early this morning and there wasn’t much wind. I hit my irons good. I have experienced a lot of rain delays before but it was never like this, taking one whole day to finish 18 holes,” said the 25-year-old Poom, dubbed the “Babyfaced Assassin.
“I waited three hours yesterday and it was suspended again when I was on the last hole (this morning). I don’t enjoy it so hopefully the weather gets better for everyone. It was nice playing alongside Paul Casey. I played my own game and he was focused on his too. We spoke a bit.”
American Davis Love III did not fare as well as Poom and Casey in the final holes of his first round as he carded three bogeys, against two birdies, from the 12th to card a 69.
The most damaging bogey for the World Golf Hall of Famer came at the 18th where Love four-putted after finding the green in two to give himself a long eagle putt.
Love, who finished seventh in last week’s Sony Open on the PGA Tour, did not drop a shot in the 11 holes he played on Friday.
“I hit a lot of wayward shots. I made some great putts but also missed some little putts, mostly all on the last hole. It’s disappointing not to get it more under par but it is really only my second round around the course so I’m still learning and I hope it gets better before the weekend,” said Love.