Chinese Taipei’s Hung Chien-yao extended his bliss to the SMBC Singapore Open by carding a five-under-par 66 to snatch the first round clubhouse lead on Thursday.
Together with the Japanese pair of Yuta Ikeda and Yoshinori, Philippines’ Miguel Tabuena also had a round to remember when he returned with a 67 to trail Hung by one shot at the US$1million event.
“This is a very beautiful course and I have been here a lot of times. I know how challenging it is and I have not shot such a good score here before,” Hung said after his round. I just thought my mental game was good today. I felt really relaxed out there and I wasn’t thinking much.”
England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick, who is making his debut at the Singapore Open, was pleased to have completed his round before tropical storms halted play at the season-opening event of the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO).
“The storm seems to have come early today and it’s pouring down right now so I’m not envious of anyone who’s still out there,” Fitzpatrick said of the weather. “It was a bit up and down. I felt like I drove it pretty well and gave myself some chances on the fairway to get close, but didn’t really take them. I putted pretty solid, and my short game was alright as well, so it was a good solid day all around.”
The Englishman signed for a 68 which was matched by Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond and Malaysia’s Nicholas Fung.
Play was first suspended at 2.08pm (local time). It resumed at 5.30pm before being suspended again due to fading light at 7.10pm. 78 players will resume their first round at 7.30am on Friday morning with the second round scheduled to start at 9.40am.
Having welcomed his baby daughter last November, Hung marked his best 18-hole score at the Sentosa Golf Club’s Serapong Course which he attributed to his growing maturity.
Hung’s newfound status has also revived his flagging fortunes as his performance marked a big turnaround for the 26-year-old.
“I got married last year and welcomed my baby daughter recently. I guess my mind set has changed quite a bit from last year, with the responsibilities I have now,” Hung said. “I couldn’t quite get used to it last year but coming to the first event of the season this week, I told myself to just come here and enjoy myself. Enjoy every tournament that I get in and then go back and spend time with my family.”
Playing in his first event since missing the cut in three consecutive events towards the end of 2018, Hung’s best result at the Singapore showpiece was a T-60 last year.
Tabeuna continued to enjoy another good showing at the Singapore Open having finished tied-fourth and tied-eighth in 2016 and 2018 respectively.
The Filipino admitted he has not hit top form yet but will be ready as the week progresses.
“My game’s still pretty rusty. I took a long break from the game, longer than usual. I just had a longer off-season last year,” Tabeuna said. “I had some family visits in the United States over Christmas and I wanted to spend more time with them. But I am happy with the way I played today.”
Like last year where he finished tied-fourth, Jazz has established himself as one of the leading contenders again with another assured performance.
Major winner Sergio Garcia of Spain together with Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa returned with matching 69s to remain three shots back of Hung.