Singapore-based Australian Scott Barr took full advantage of his local knowledge by carding a two-under-par 69 to share the first round clubhouse lead with Korea’s Jeunghun Wang, Australia’s Sam Brazel and Thailand’s Natipong Srithong at the World Classic Championship at Laguna National on Thursday.
Berry Henson of the United States together with Philippines’ Miguel Tabuena shared fifth place after returning with identical 70s at the US$750,000 Asian Tour event.
Play was suspended for the day due to darkness but when the sirens went off to signal the suspension of play, only six players, who have completed their round, have broken par at the challenging 6, 935 yards par-71 World Classic course dubbed ‘The Beast’.
Barr was pleased he managed to stay patient as he continues his chase for his maiden win on the region’s premier Tour.
Despite being three-over after seven holes in his starting back-nine 10, the Australian managed to recover well to move back atop the leaderboard.
“It’s great to have the local knowledge and I would say it’s definitely an advantage. There a bunch of holes through the back-nine which are really difficult and you got to be really patient.
“Just one shot here can change the mood of the day as you can easily walk off with a double or triple. I’ve experienced that before here and that’s why I’ve learnt to be really patient with myself around here,” said Barr.
Wang got more than he had bargained for when he surprised even himself to see his name among the leaders at the Laguna National Golf and Country Club.
“Actually I was not even thinking of trying to lead this tournament. I was only concentrating on making par on every hole here. It was a bonus with the birdies but I hit some pretty decent tee shots too,” said Wang, who has already posted five top-15 finishes on the Asian Tour this season.
The Korean enjoyed a quick start when he birdied his opening par-four first. He dropped a shot on five but would pick up another gain on eight.
After turning in 34, Wang remained focused and reached home in 35 after marking his inward-nine with two birdies and another bogey on 14.
“This is definitely one of the toughest courses in Asia and you really have to be very focus. When you make a mistake, you got to recover fast as the greens are hard to read,” said Wang.
Brazel is optimistic he can ride on his good run of form coming into the Singapore showpiece.
Brazel recently finished tied-eighth and 18th in Macao and Hong Kong respectively and is hoping to put up another good showing in Singapore this week.
“My form has been solid and I’ve been hitting the ball very nicely so it has been good,” said Brazel.
Brazel credited his astute short game for giving him an early lead which he can be proud of.
“Putting is quite difficult as there’s always a danger of hitting it to the wrong spot. But I putted nice and I managed to hit a couple of close shots and that made it a little bit easier.
“So it was nice to play solid out there as this is not an easy course,” said the Australian.
Henson, a one-time Asian Tour winner, was delighted to have slayed the ‘beast’ when he teed off in the morning and believes the plot will only thicken as the week goes on.
“I managed to sly the beast and I’m pretty ecstatic I managed to shoot under-par especially on my first attempt here. I feel that under-par is going to be a good score no matter what the conditions are.
“I think breaking par is going to be the story this week and if you can do that, you’ll be moving up the leaderboard. For now, I just super excited to be able to post a red number and I’m looking forward to doing better tomorrow,” said the American, who traded three bogeys against four birdies.
21 players have yet to complete their first round and will resume play at 7.30am (local time)
Leading scores after round 1 of the World Classic Championship being played at the par 71, 6935 Yards Laguna National GcC course (am – denotes amateur):
69 – Jeunghun WANG (KOR), Sam BRAZEL (AUS), Natipong SRITHONG (THA), Scott BARR (AUS).
70 – Berry HENSON (USA), Miguel TABUENA (PHI).
71 – Paul PETERSON (USA), Chinnarat PHADUNGSIL (THA), Charlie WI (KOR), Unho PARK (AUS), Shaun NORRIS (RSA), Lindsay RENOLDS (CAN), Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA), Namchok TANTIPOKHAKUL (THA), Siddikur RAHMAN (BAN).
72 – Anura ROHANA (SRI), Shiv KAPUR (IND), Danthai BOONMA (THA), Jbe KRUGER (RSA), Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA).
73 – GOH Kun Yang (SIN), Rory HIE (INA), Tirawat KAEWSIRIBANDIT (THA), LIEN Lu-sen (TPE), Khalin JOSHI (IND), Janne KASKE (FIN), Prom MEESAWAT (THA), S.S.P. CHAWRASIA (IND), Danny CHIA (MAS), Niall TURNER (IRL), Thitiphun CHUAYPRAKONG (THA), Josh YOUNGER (AUS).
76 – Jeev Milkha SINGH (IND), Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA), David LIPSKY (USA)