Japan’s Hideto Tanihara and Satoshi Kodaira together with Korea’s Kyungnam Kang shared the early honours when they returned with matching six-under-par 65s to take the clubhouse lead after the first round of the SMBC Singapore Open was suspended due to fading light on Thursday.
A lengthy rain delay that lasted close to two and a half hours in the afternoon meant that 69 players will return to complete their first round at 7.30am on Friday.
Tanihara, a multiple-winner on the JGTO, showed the local galleries his growing credentials by trading seven birdies against a lone birdie to bask in the early spotlight with compatriot Kodaira and Kang, who enjoyed a flawless 65 that was highlighted by an eagle-three on the fourth hole at the demanding par-71, 7,398-yard Serapong course.
“t was overall a good round. I flew over to Singapore right after finishing the final round on Sunday at Hawaiian Open,” said Tanihara after his round.
“The jet-lag is not too bad. I woke up a couple of times at night but I am able to sleep. I three-putted my only bogey on the par-four first hole but apart from that, I felt really comfortable with my putting as I managed to read the greens well”, added Tanihara, who wone three times on the JGTO in 2016 and has won 14 times on the tour overall.
After last year’s experience, I know the weather changes quickly here. So I am ready for thunder and rain.” Tanihara finished tied-sixth in the last edition of the SMBC Singapore Open, four shots back of winner Younghan Song of Korea.
Malaysia’s Gavin Green also showed his potential by signing for a 66 to share fourth place with American Seungsu Han and rising Thai star Pavit Tangkamolprasert, who birdied his last hole just before the sirens went off to signal the suspension of play.
“I was actually feeling very comfortable coming into this week. I had a good two-week break before coming here. I took it easy and didn’t rush into anything out there. I was really feeling good out there compared to last year,” said Green, who is playing in the SMBC Singapore Open for the second time. He came back on Saturday to complete his second round last year but missed the cut by two shots.
“I putted well today. I played a little smarter than I did last year too. I was just cruising along towards the end of the round. This course suits my game. I tried to hit two-irons on a couple of holes to par and it’s always eight or nine iron for my second shots,” he added.
Singapore’s Quincy Quek, who welcomed his first-born baby daughter just five days ago, added more bliss into his life when opened with an encouraging 68 to trail Tanihara by three shots in tied-11th place.
“The game was pretty solid overall. I hit the ball not too bad and I made a few 10-footers which helped a lot. I made a lot of par saves too. The round could have gone away from me but I managed to keep my head in the game,” said Quek,
“I won a local event earlier this month but I haven’t had much practice since as I was waiting for the arrival of my baby daughter. I haven’t really slept since she was born on Saturday. I have lost track of time since actually. But I am glad she’s healthy which is the most important. I sat in the delivery room and I was so nervous. It’s a kind of feeling that you can’t describe unless you really go through it. I will definitely remember it for the rest of my life,” he continued.
Quek was the only Singaporean professional to make the halfway cut in the 2016 SMBC Singapore Open. It was his second time making the cut in his National Open since turning professional in 2009. He finished tied-49th last year. Quek first made the halfway cut in the Singapore Open when he was still an amateur in 2007, and he made the cut again in 2012 where he finished tied-61st.
Other notable players tied for 11th include India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar, Philippines’ Antonio Lascuna and Miguel Tabuena as well as South Africa’s Jbe Kruger at the US$1 million event which is the season-opener on the Asian Tour and is jointly sanctioned with the Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO) at the Sentosa Golf Club, which is also the Home of the Asian Tour.
Leading morning round 1 scores of the SMBC Singapore Open being played at the par 71, 7398 Yards Sentosa GC course (am – denotes amateur):
65 – Hideto TANIHARA (JPN), Kyungnam KANG (KOR), Satoshi KODAIRA (JPN).
66 – Seungsu HAN (USA), Gavin GREEN (MAS), Pavit TANGKAMOLPRASERT (THA).
67 – Shaun NORRIS (RSA).
68 – Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND), Jbe KRUGER (RSA), Miguel TABUENA (PHI), Antonio LASCUNA (PHI), Toshinori MUTO (JPN), Quincy QUEK (SIN), Tadahiro TAKAYAMA (JPN).
69 – Scott BARR (AUS), Masanori KOBAYASHI (JPN), Daisuke MARUYAMA (JPN), Seunghyuk KIM (KOR), Chapchai NIRAT (THA), Shubhankar SHARMA (IND), Brett COLETTA (AUS), Sungjae IM (KOR).
70 – Prom MEESAWAT (THA), Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA), LIANG Wen-chong (CHN), Danny CHIA (MAS), Daniel CHOPRA (SWE), Yusaku MIYAZATO (JPN), Tirawat KAEWSIRIBANDIT (THA), Gunn CHAROENKUL (THA).
*Adam Scott is two-under through 16 holes while Ernie Els is two-over with two holes to play.