David Puig, consistently on point since joining the Asian Tour last year with six top-15 finishes in just nine starts, once again shot a low-number today to take the opening-round lead in the US$2 million International Series Singapore.
The Arizona-based Spaniard shot a scorching bogey-free eight-under-par 64, on the intimidating Tampines Course at Tanah Merah Country Club on a hot and humid day.
Chinese-Taipei’s Chang Wei-lun and Thais Rattanon Wannasrichan and Itthipat Buranatanyarat returned 67s – in the seventh International Series event this season.
Puig is due a win on the Asian Tour having consistently been in the running since turning professional in September last year, including in his last three appearances: he tied for fourth in the International Series England, ended equal 14th in the St Andrew Bay Championship, and came home in a tie for 11th in last month’s Shinhan Donghae Open, on each occasion threatening to win.
And he made the perfect start today with three birdies on the front side, and five on the back, including three in the last four.
“Tough course, tough conditions,” said the 21-year-old, who plays for Torque GC – the dominant team on the LIV Golf League this season having won four times.
“It is true that some holes were a little shorter today, but still a tough course, firm greens. I hit it very good, and I think the front nine I played very good. I putted three times for eagle, and shot three under with 17 putts, I missed one green. On the back nine I played solid as well, I hit good shots, and made more putts, so yes very happy.
“I have been hitting it pretty good off the tee this year and this is a long course and there are some holes where you need to be accurate and precise but there are others where they kind of open and with my distance I have a little bit of an advantage to that.”
In his very first event on the Asian Tour last year, the International Series Morocco he came home in third having been the overnight leader, and that set the tone for a consistent run of high-quality golf.
He added: “I have played good these past couple of months. I have had a lot of good rounds and couldn’t get it done in all of these tournaments, but you know I keep learning. I know I am a good player and that’s why I am here and why I play on LIV, I know that, and also the scores tell that. I practice hard and I think I am doing all the things right, with my team as well.”
Chang is in-form at the moment – he tied for fifth in the Mercuries Taiwan Masters last week – despite carrying an injury.
“I injured my right ankle last week,” said Chang, a winner on the Asian Development Tour in 2019, at the Charming Yeangder event.
“I am not limping, but I felt uncomfortable through the round today. I hurt my ankle during the third-round last week, and I just played through it on the final day.
“Didn’t think much of it and I played well to get a top-five finish on Sunday. That gave me a lot of confidence coming to this week. I brought the injury into this week but it’s my third time playing here now so I am familiar with the course. Just play shot by shot. My ankle’s injured and I can’t do much about it. So just play the best I can.”
He began on hole 10 and turned in two under thanks to back-to-back birdies on 15 and 16.
He added: “Those back-to-back birdies there got me going. The course is in great condition, as always. There is nothing I can nitpick about the course.”
He dropped a shot on the second, but rallied with gains on three, five, eight and nine.
Asian Tour Order of Merit (OOM) and International Series OOM leader Andy Ogletree from the United States came in with a 68, along with Japan’s Tomoharu Otsuki, Koreans Bio Kim, Meenwhee Kim and Taehee Lee, New Zealander Ben Campbell, and Thailand’s Suradit Yongcharoenchai, Suteepat Prateeptienchai and Atiruj Winaicharoenchai.
Defending champion Nitithorn Thippong from Thailand returned a 71, as did former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and Hong Kong’s Taichi Kho – winner of the individual gold medal at the Asian Games last week.
Jaco Ahlers, winner of last week’s Mercuries Taiwan Masters, fired a 72, while Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell signed for a 74.
Singapore amateur Ryan Ang finished the day as the leading local player after carding a 70. Ang was the joint leading Singaporean in last week’s Asian Games, along with James Leow, in a tie for 12th. Leow shot even par today.
Scores after round 1 of the International Series Singapore being played at the par 72, 7535 Yards Tanah Merah CC course (am – denotes amateur):
64 – David Puig (ESP).
67 – Chang Wei-lun (TPE), Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA), Itthipat Buranatanyarat (THA).
68 – Tomoharu Otsuki (JPN), Bio Kim (KOR), Suteepat Prateeptienchai (THA), Atiruj Winaicharoenchai (THA), Ben Campbell (NZL), Taehee Lee (KOR), Suradit Yongcharoenchai (THA), Meenwhee Kim (KOR), Andy Ogletree (USA), Karandeep Kochhar (IND).
69 – Lee Chieh-po (TPE), Scott Hend (AUS), Jaewoong Eom (KOR), Jack Thompson (AUS), Hideto Tanihara (JPN), David Drysdale (SCO), Scott Vincent (ZIM), Bernd Wiesberger (AUT), Matthew Cheung (HKG), Gunn Charoenkul (THA), Ben Leong (MAS).
70 – Alex Ching (USA), Ryan Ang (am, SIN), James Wilson (ENG), Richard T. Lee (CAN), Ryosuke Kinoshita (JPN), Richard Bland (ENG), Viraj Madappa (IND), Sihwan Kim (USA), Veer Ahlawat (IND), Poom Saksansin (THA), Turk Pettit (USA), Yuto Katsuragawa (JPN), Todd Sinnott (AUS), Dodge Kemmer (USA), Mingyu Cho (KOR), Yonggu Shin (CAN), Carlos Ortiz (MEX), Travis Smyth (AUS), Chan Shih-chang (TPE), Alvaro Ortiz (MEX), Danthai Boonma (THA), Marcus Fraser (AUS).
71 – Seungtaek Lee (KOR), Angelo Que (PHI), Neil Schietekat (RSA), Charl Schwartzel (RSA), Miguel Tabuena (PHI), Prom Meesawat (THA), Zach Murray (AUS), Marc Ong (SIN), Taichi Kho (HKG), Matt Killen (ENG), Nitithorn Thippong (THA), Kyongjun Moon (KOR), Micah Lauren Shin (USA), Jinichiro Kozuma (JPN), Shahriffuddin Ariffin (MAS), Yongjun Bae (KOR).
72 – James Leow (SIN), Koh Dengshan (SIN), Chonlatit Chuenboonngam (THA), Hung Chien-yao (TPE), S. Chikkarangappa (IND), Terry Pilkadaris (AUS), Zhengkai Bai (CHN), Ye Wocheng (CHN), Ervin Chang (MAS), Pawin Ingkhapradit (THA), John Lyras (AUS), Sadom Kaewkanjana (THA), Berry Henson (USA), Jaco Ahlers (RSA), Sangmoon Bae (KOR), Settee Prakongvech (THA), Yoseop Seo (KOR), Rashid Khan (IND), Jarin Todd (USA).
73 – Hanmil Jung (KOR), Chanat Sakulpolphaisan (THA), Lincoln Morgan (am, AUS), Chapchai Nirat (THA), Miguel Carballo (ARG), Ian Snyman (RSA), Phachara Khongwatmai (THA), Jediah Morgan (AUS), Natipong Srithong (THA), Gregory Foo (SIN), Runchanapong Youprayong (THA), Daryl Low (am, SIN), Jeremy Gandon (FRA), S. Vikkash Babu (SIN), Kartik Sharma (IND), Siddikur Rahman (BAN).
74 – Tirawat Kaewsiribandit (THA), Jazz Janewattananond (THA), Kieran Vincent (ZIM), Kevin Yuan (AUS), Andrew Dodt (AUS), Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND), Jbe Kruger (RSA), Honey Baisoya (IND), Ben Jones (ENG), Abdul Hadi (SIN), Dominic Foos (GER), Sanghyun Park (KOR), Kosuke Hamamoto (THA), Graeme McDowell (NIR), Brendan Jones (AUS), Nicholas Fung (MAS).
75 – Yikeun Chang (KOR), Bjorn Hellgren (SWE), S.S.P. Chawrasia (IND), Trevor Simsby (USA), Steve Lewton (ENG), Pavit Tangkamolprasert (THA), Sean Lee (am, SIN).
76 – Nick Voke (NZL), Nicklaus Chiam (SIN), MJ Viljoen (RSA), Wang Wei-hsuan (TPE), Frank Kennedy (ENG), Ajeetesh Sandhu (IND), Michael Maguire (USA), Chase Koepka (USA), Choo Tze Huang (SIN), Mardan Mamat (SIN), Mitchell Slorach (SIN), Lloyd Jefferson Go (PHI).
77 – Douglas Klein (AUS), Josh Younger (AUS), Othman Almulla (KSA), Shiv Kapur (IND), Faisal Salhab (KSA).
78 – Ferdinand Mueller (GER), Qi Wen Wong (am, SIN).
79 – Saud Al Sharif (KSA).
81 – Marc Kawasoe (SIN).
83 – Shergo Al Kurdi (ENG).
86 – Abiel Lim (SIN).