Thailand’s Kosuke Hamamoto showed he can be the man for the big occasion when he signed for an opening six-under-par 65 to take the first round clubhouse lead at the SMBC Singapore Open on Thursday.
Despite playing at the US$1 million Singapore showpiece for the first time, the 20-year-old displayed maturity beyond his years as he outplayed several of the tournament’s marquee names that include former world number one Justin Rose of England, Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, American Matt Kuchar and 2019 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion, Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand.
“To be honest, I’m just really happy to be playing in this prestigious event,” Hamamoto said. “I just came into the week with the mindset that I should be grateful and thankful for this opportunity to play at the SMBC Singapore Open.
“I just went out there to have fun and tried not to put too much pressure on myself. I’ve been trying to work as hard as possible after graduating from Qualifying School and the results are finally beginning to show.”
Play was suspended for slightly more than an hour in the afternoon due thunderstorms at the Serapong Course, Sentosa Golf Club.
The first round subsequently could not be completed due to fading light in the evening, leaving 45 players having to resume their round at 7.40am on Friday morning, with Won Joon Lee (68), Andrew Dodt (69) and Travis Smyth (69) the best of the Australians to complete their opening rounds.
Thailand’s Gunn Charoenkul showed his consistency yet again by signing for a 66 to trail Hamamoto by one shot in a share of second place that included Canada’s Richard T. Lee, Japan’s Rikuya Hoshino and American Matt Kuchar, who managed to complete his round in near darkness.
“I’ve always heard how this place always gets a lot of delays and for the two rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday, the weather was perfect, no delays,” Kucahr said. “I thought it was going to be a great week. Then when it comes to the tournament time, we get a delay. I was pleased to be able to finished, just, it’s always nice to slip in a few more minutes not having to do the restart.”
17-year-old Joohyung Kim of Korea, who is the youngest player in the field and making his SMBC Singapore Open debut, continued to show his potential as he posted a 67 to end his day in tied-sixth place alongside Korea’s Inhoi Hur and Jazz.
Jazz started his title defence with a promising 67 while Rose and Stenson are a further shot back from the defending champion in tied-ninth place after returning with matching 68s.