Singapore - 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 trial Hung by one shot at the US$1 million event.
England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick, who is making his debut at the SMBC 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 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.
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 tied-60th finish last year.
Tabeuna continued to enjoy another good showing at the SMBC 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.
Like last year where he finished tied-fourth, Jazz showed why he has established himself as one of the leading contenders for the SMBC Singapore Open 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.
Did you know?
- Hung’s best result at the Singapore Open was in 2018 when he finished tied-60th finish. It was the first time he made the cut in three starts in Singapore.
- Hung had only one top-10 finish last year when he finished third at the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship.
- He missed the cut in his last three events in 2018.
- Miguel Tabuena missed out on a place at The Open by two shots when he finished tied-eighth at the SMBC Singapore Open last year.
- The Filipino is a two-time Asian Tour winner. He won his National Open in 2015 and added another victory last year when he lifted the Queen’s Cup hosted by Jaidee Foundation.
- Jazz finished tied-fourth at the SMBC Singapore Open last year to earn himself a dream ticket to The Open.
- The Thai first played his way into the history books of the Asian Tour in 2010 when he became the youngest ever player to make the halfway cut at the 2010 Asian Tour International in Bangkok at the age of 14 years and 71 days.
Hung Chien-yao (Tpe) First round 66 (-5)
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. I just thought my mental game was good today. I felt really relaxed out there and I wasn’t thinking much. I can’t tell you which holes were good and which holes were not. I can just say I am very lucky today. A lot of shots I didn’t hit good but still managed to get in good positions. 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. 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. That was my mind set coming here. I am really happy to become a father at the age of 26. It has not been easy for me and my wife. It wasn’t easy looking after a baby as we always have to wake up in the middle of the night.
Miguel Tabuena (Phi) – First round 67 (-4)
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. 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. It’s going to be tough out there. You have to make a lot of birdies and hit the fairways and try to attack the pins. I had some good finishes here. I came in tied-fourth in 2016 and last year, I was tied-eighth. Hopefully I can do better than that. I am on the right track. There are still a lot of golf to be played. I am striking the ball well and I am happy with it. Two three putts today costed me. That was on the third and ninth holes. That were the only two bogeys I made today. I didn’t touch the clubs since the last day of Indonesian Masters till January 6. It’s still a little bit rusty. I am going to the range and hit a few balls. I am going to try and get my drives more accurate. If I can do that, I should be able to do well this week.
Jazz Janewattananond (Tha) – First round 68 (-3)
I had a shaky start today, playing with two superstars Ryo Ishikawa and Sergio Garcia. They are the two players whom I look up to and I’ve watched them play in the Majors since young. They are two of my idols really. I got used to it after a few holes. I got back the momentum and it kind of free me up a bit and I managed to play better on the back nine. It was a good experience playing with them. I get to see how they play at the highest level. I can see where I need to improve, what I can do better in and see what my strengths and weaknesses are. It’s just inspiring playing with them. Three-under is not a bad round, I think. I just want to keep my game solid, hit the fairways and greens out there. I hope to sink a few more putts tomorrow but everything has been on point.
Nicholas Fung (Mas) – First round 69 (-3)
It’s a very important week so it’s definitely good to start well. This year is my last year of winner’s exemption so I really need to do well to keep my card for next year. It’s important for me so I hope to play well in the first few events. I had a good finish to the 2018 season, shooting a 62 on the final day of the Indonesian Masters. It’s definitely good to carry that good form to Singapore. I have been playing well as of late. I try to stick to my usual practice routine and kept my momentum going. I am pretty confident with my swing now. I just hope to make some putts out there. I have played here a couple of times. You need to hit the fairways to score out there. This is not a very long course. If you hit a bad drive, you might not get a good second shot because the greens are big and quick here. The key is definitely to find as many greens and fairways as possible out there.
Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng) – First round 68 (-3)
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. 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 new rules are very interesting. We actually had to stop ourselves today on 17 - we weren’t even sure if you could still go back to the tee. That’s sort of a traditional rule that everyone knows, but we just played it safe instead and just went in front of the tee box. Dropping from knee height is different, I think it makes you look a little bit silly personally but it is what it is.
Sergio Garcia (Esp) – First round 69 (-2)
They actually helped quite a bit with this heat, and they kind of prevent mosquitos from biting. They actually felt quite good, so I was happy to wear them. Well it does help a little bit. I’ve had a little bit of a sinus infection these last couple of days, and a bit of an upset stomach this morning. But I think I played nicely, and the highest I can shoot. Obviously there were a couple of shots here and there where I was a little bit rusty, like this one on the last (hole) for example, the second shot. But other than that I felt like I played well. I gave myself a lot of chances and hit some good putts. I didn’t really make a lot, but the greens are tricky. They’re very fast, and you have to be very aware of your speed, and unfortunately I lacked a little bit of speed in a couple of parts here and there. Just chill and get some food in my belly. Relax a little bit. Obviously days here in Singapore are long and hard with the heat and humidity, so it’s important to rest and take a nice cold shower, and just get ready for tomorrow.
Leading scores after round 1 of the SMBC Singapore Open being played at the par 71, 7403 Yards Sentosa GC course (am - denotes amateur):
66 - Hung Chien-yao (TPE).
67 - Yuta Ikeda (JPN), Miguel Tabuena (PHI), Yoshinori Fujimoto (JPN).
68 - Daisuke Kataoka (JPN), Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG), Jazz Janewattananond (THA), Gunn Charoenkul (THA), Nicholas Fung (MAS), Ervin Chang (am, MAS), Richard T. Lee (CAN), Masahiro Kawamura (JPN), Travis Smyth (AUS).
69 - Koh Deng Shan (SIN), Hosung Choi (KOR), Ryo Ishikawa (JPN), Sergio Garcia (ESP), Kazuki Higa (JPN), Prom Meesawat (THA), Seungsu Han (USA), Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA), Yosuke Tsukada (JPN), Seunghyuk Kim (KOR).
70 - Prayad Marksaeng (THA), Jobim Carlos (PHI), Tomoyo Ikemura (JPN), Thanyakon Khrongpha (THA), Ajeetesh Sandhu (IND), Berry Henson (USA), Toshinori Muto (JPN), Terry Pilkadaris (AUS), Wonjoon Lee (AUS), Jake Higginbottom (AUS), Seonghyeon Kim (KOR).