Tom McKibbin carded a flawless eight under par 64 to hold the early lead after the first round of the Singapore Classic.
The Northern Irishman, playing in his first season on the DP World Tour after graduating from the Challenge Tour last year, made the turn at Laguna National Golf Resort Club three under par and then surged up the leaderboard after three birdies in a row from the second hole, his 11th.
The 20-year-old then birdied two of his last three holes as he took a one-stroke lead over the Swedish pair of Simon Forsström and Joakim Lagergren, Frenchman Mathieu Pavon and Finland’s Sami Välimäki who each carded seven under par rounds of 65.
In a share of sixth place on six under par are Englishman Nathan Kimsey, last year’s Challenge Tour Number One, and Paul Waring and U.S. Junior Amateur Champion Ding Wenyi of China.
Also teeing it up this week is Germany’s Marcel Siem, who became the 45th player in the Tour’s history to reach the milestone of 500 appearances. The German carded a two over par opening round of 74.
Tom McKibbin: “I played solid golf, a bit of luck here and there. It hasn’t been far away these last few weeks, so it was nice to see a round like that.
“I’m getting pretty comfortable. It’s natural to me to come here and play now. It’s been good so far, hopefully I’ll continue like that the rest of the year.
“Life’s pretty nice if you’re playing well, it’s different if you’re not. I’m enjoying it. I’ve played enough of these events that it feels normal to me now, but it’s great fun.”
Joakim Lagergren: “I played solid, really nicely out there. A short miss on the eighth hole, but otherwise I played pretty good.
“It’s a different course. It’s tricky out there and you get some really different lies. It felt really hard during the practice round, especially the back nine. But I came out this morning, was five under on that nine, so it’s nice.”
Mathieu Pavon: “Overall it was pretty good. My only bogey was on the last, the ninth, but we knew it was a tough hole. I just missed my drive a little bit and was in trouble in the left trap. I tried to make a great four to finish, but it was a bad putt, a bad read, I made five but everything else was really, really good.”
Marcel Siem: “It’s a long time. You think about it and it doesn’t feel that long, but the numbers speak for themselves. I feel fit still, I love to play and compete out here. It’s awesome. 500 is quite a cool number.
“There’s a lot of guys out here still, a few of them left already, they aren’t on Tour anymore. But Coels (Nicolas Colsaerts) and I, we played amateur golf and I’ve known him for 30 years almost. It’s awesome. The European Tour was always my family, it still is and it will always be.”