A blistering back nine of 30 saw Tom McKibbin skip to the top of the leaderboard at The Singapore Classic on Thursday morning after a bogey-free 64.
McKibbin carded eight birdies including five on his back nine to hit the front early on eight-under and at the time of writing he leads Frenchman Matthieu Pavon and Finland’s Sami Valimaki by the minimum as the afternoon starters get their campaigns underway.
The 20-year-old arrived at Laguna National Golf Resort Club following a T36 finish last week in Ras Al Khaimah and feels his game has been trending in the right direction despite two harsh missed cuts in the first two Rolex events of the season – he held the lead after 12 holes of round one in Dubai.
“Not sure what the recipe for that was to be honest,” joked McKibbin. “Just played very solid golf and got lucky here and there which you need when you shoot those good rounds so everything was solid and my game hasn’t been far away the last couple of weeks so it was nice to see a round like that today.
“It was a very good day. Going out there after the practice rounds the course was very tricky if you find the wrong spots on the greens so I navigated the course well and eight birdies, no bogeys is a pretty nice way to start.”
The Holywood native began on the back nine and eased to the turn with birdies on 11, 13 and 18 before three successive birdies from the 2nd saw him explode into life.
McKibbin has seen great rounds crumble before him late on in his burgeoning DP World Tour career, but he powered home on this occasion with closing birdies on 7 and 9.
“It’s nice to bring some form here. I played nicely last week just a few bad holes here and there so it’s nice to continue that into here this week, the game feels good so it was good to get out again today.
“I’m finding it good, life is pretty nice if you’re playing well, not too enjoyable if you’re not. I am enjoying my time out here I’ve played ten of these events now so it feels normal to me it’s good.”
Waterford’s Gary Hurley looks to have put last week’s missed cut behind him as he opened with a three-under 69 to leave him inside the top-20.
The 30-year-old turned in 32 with birdies on the first, third and ninth and bounced back from successive bogeys on 11 and 12 with birdies on 13 and 14.
Kinsale’s John Murphy recovered from a nightmarish start to his opening round to salvage a two-over 74.
Murphy found himself four-over through three holes after a bogey, double, bogey start. He responded with back-to-back birdies on 5 and 6 but three bogeys in five holes dropped him back to plus five through eleven holes.
The 24-year-old bounced back with a birdie on the twelfth before closing out his day with an eagle on the par-5 18th.