Tanihara, Kang shoot 65 to set early pace

Prolific winner Hideto Tanihara of Japan shrugged off jet lag to grab a share of the clubhouse lead with a sizzling six-under-par 65 in the first round of the SMBC Singapore Open on Thursday.

Tanihara jetted into Singapore from Hawaii after finishing 27th in the Sony Open but showed little sign of fatigue at The Serapong Course, Sentosa Golf Club.

Korea’s Kyungnam Kang birdied the 18th hole to join the 38-year-old Tanihara atop the leaderboard in the prestigious tournament which is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Japan Golf Tour.

They lead Malaysian young gun Gavin Green and unheralded Korean-born American Seungsu Han by a stroke with South African Shaun Norris, who won the joint-sanctioned Leopalace21 Myanmar Open last year, a further shot adrift after firing 67.

Spain’s Sergio Garcia shot level-par 71 in his debut at the SMBC Singapore Open, a score that could have been a lot better if not for a misbehaving putter. Watched by a big gallery, he missed a number of makeable birdie putts in a round that included three birdies and three bogeys.

Tanihara, joint sixth in last year’s SMBC Singapore Open. made a blistering start from the 10th with birdies at his first two holes before picking up another shot at the par-three 14th.

He dropped a shot at the first hole (his 10th) but then turned on the afterburners with four birdies in the final six holes, including three in a row from the sixth.

Tanihara, the world number 54, has won 14 times on the Japan Tour with three of those victories coming in 2016.

The less-decorated Kang was equally as impressive in his bogey-free round. The multiple winner on the Korean Golf Tour kickstarted his round with an eagle at the par-five fourth before adding birdies at the sixth, 10th, 11th and 18th.

The 23 year old Green, who graduated to the Asian Tour by finishing second in the Asian Development Tour’s Order of Merit last year, added to his growing reputation with an assured round that included six birdies and a sole bogey at his penultimate hole, the eighth.

Han, who moved to the United States when he was 14 and made an impression in college golf, stormed up the leaderboard with an eagle at the par-five 18th. Like Kang, he was bogey free and fired birdies at the third, fourth and 11th.

New father Quincy Quek of Singapore gave credence to the so-called nappy factor with a fine three under 68 . Quek, who shone in the 2007 Singapore Open as an amateur, made his move by closing his front nine with three straight birdies. Two bogeys in five holes stalled his progress but he picked up another shot at the sixth (his 15th hole).

Three-time winner Adam Scott of Australia and defending champion Younghan Song of Korea are amongst the afternoon starters.

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