Björn leads at Sentosa

11/8/2012 6:31:41 AM
Thomas Bjorn  (Getty Images)
Thomas Bjorn (Getty Images)

Thomas Björn claimed the clubhouse lead midway through the opening round of the Barclays Singapore Open with a five under par round of 66 before play was suspended due to the threat of lightning.

The 41 year old Dane, victorious three times on The European Tour last season but yet to win in 2012, posted six birdies and a solitary bogey at Sentosa Golf Club, with the highlight coming at the fifth hole, where his birdie putt from 20 feet found the middle of the cup.

“I came here and saw the golf course, and knew that everything was about driving the golf ball well,” said the 13-time European Tour champion.

“It’s not the longest golf course in the world, so if you can keep it in the fairway you can produce a score, and I did that very well today. It’s only round one though, so we’ll work from here.

“I always enjoy coming to Singapore and Malaysia. You have got to pace yourself a little bit, and not use too much energy through the week. It is quite nice for the body to be feeling nice and warm out there, with no cold for the old joints to get you into trouble!”

At five under par, Björn leads by one from England’s Simon Khan, Thailand’s Chinnarat Phadungsil and Spain’s Pablo Martin.

Former BMW PGA Champion Khan led for much of the morning after turning in four under par 32, but two bogeys in the last three holes cost him the outright lead.

He said: “The heat wasn’t quite as intense first thing, but it soon warms up here. Round the front nine I really got it going nicely but on the back nine maybe I didn’t hit it quite where I wanted to. I dropped my first shot on sixteen, trying to get a bit cute between clubs, then just hit a bad tee shot on the last. I wasn’t really concentrating on the tee, I think by that point the heat had got to me a little bit! But overall I was pleased how I handled it today, and it’s a good start.”

Phadungsil, playing the back nine first, birdied the 18th hole from 12 feet for an outward 31, before coming home in level par.

Martin was the first amateur to win on The European Tour in 2007, and has added two further titles at the Alfred Dunhill Championship since then.

But having made just seven cuts all season, and with a best finish of tied 38th, the 26 year old finds himself 166th in The Race to Dubai, and needing to climb 51 places by the end of next week to retain his playing privileges and so avoid a trip to the Qualifying School.

To that end, a six-birdie, two-bogey round certainly helped his cause.

He said: “I haven’t been playing or scoring well all year really. I haven’t been able to put together four decent rounds in a row, which has been very frustrating. But hopefully my lucky will turn here, and this can be my week. I’ve got two tournaments left until the end of the season, so I want to make the most of them and finish the season strongly.”

England’s Paul Casey continued his good run of recent form with a three under par round of 68 to share fifth place with former US PGA Champion Y E Yang and Thailand’s Kwanchai Tannin.

World Number One and current Race to Dubai leader Rory McIlroy lay on level par after eight holes of his round when the klaxon sounded.

With more thunderstorms forecast, the decision was taken to abandon play at 5pm local time, with the first round scheduled to resume at 7.30am on Friday morning.