Final hole slip-up costs Tabuena the lead

In-form Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines was left to rue a bogey at his final hole as he slipped out of the early first round lead of the SMBC Singapore Open on Thursday.

Tabuena, a winner at the Queen’s Cup in Thailand at the start of December, had shown his love for Sentosa Golf Club with some immaculate play before his blemish on the ninth hole saw him sign for a four-under 67.

He is tied for second spot with the Japanese duo of Yuta Ikeda, a multiple winner on home soil, and Yoshinori Fujimoto, who has two victories to his credit.

The trio are a shot adrift of the unsung Hung Chien-Yao of Chinese Taipei. The 26 year old, who is chasing his first victory on the Asian Tour, grabbed the outright lead after the morning session thanks to an eagle at the par-five fourth (his 13th of the day) and four birdies against a sole bogey.

When lightning halted play early in the afternoon, World Cup Golf Hall of Famer Davis Love III was two under after four holes.

Ryo Ishikawa, the prince of Japanese golf who is now fully fit after a serious back injury, played some scintillating stuff before two bogeys in his last three holes marred his round.

He signed for a 69 to tie with playing partner and defending champion Sergio Garcia of Spain, who was not feeling 100 per cent. Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond, the third player in the group who was joint fourth last year, finished a shot better off with a 68.

World number 40 Matt Fitzpatrick of England matched that score with a bogey-free round while the entertaining Hosung Choi of Korea, one of the early front runners, shot a 69 after dropping three shots on his back nine.

With a tied eighth place finish last year to go alongside his fourth in 2016, Tabuena has course form as well as being a recent winner and he looked in control for 17 holes.

Starting at the 10th hole just behind the featured groups, the 24 year old snared four birdies in his opening nine holes before a bogey at the third hole (his 12th of the day) halted his progress.

But birdies at the fourth and fifth saw him retake the lead only for him to falter on the ninth.

Ishikawa, the joint halfway leader last year, looked uncomfortable over his drive on the par-five seventh and he hooked it behind a tree. His recovery hit some rocks and in the end he did well to escape with a six.

His three-putt on his last hole (the ninth) will have left a bad taste in his mouth after a lot of palatable fare.

Unwell Garcia had a battling round with four birdies offset by two bogeys.

“Well (my 69) does help a little bit (to perk me up),” said the 2017 Masters champion.

“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 (ninth 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.”

Amateur Ervin Chang and Nicholas Fung flew the Malaysian flag high with matching 68s.

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