News All Articles
Big finish sends Tom Vaillant to the top in Bahrain

Big finish sends Tom Vaillant to the top in Bahrain

Tom Vaillant produced a birdie-birdie finish to take a one-shot lead after day one of the Bahrain Championship presented by Bapco Energies.

The Frenchman did not pick up a shot until the sixth at Royal Golf Club but then found another gear, birdieing eight of his last 13 holes in a bogey-free 64 to get to eight under.

That left him a shot ahead of Swiss Joel Girrbach and South Africa's Zander Lombard and two clear of another South African in Ockie Strydom, Canada's Aaron Cockerill, Spaniard Alejandro del Rey and Dane Sebastian Friedrichsen.

Vaillant has enjoyed a rapid rise in recent years, winning in back-to-back weeks on the Alps Tour while still an amateur in 2022 to gain promotion to the European Challenge Tour.

His rookie season then saw him secure two second-place finishes as he finished 12th on the Road to Mallorca to earn a maiden campaign on the DP World Tour.

A closing 64 playing on an invite at last season's Magical Kenya Open Presented by Absa had already showed he could compete on Tour and he has now matched that score to hit the front after back-to-back missed cuts in the UAE.

"I just tried to hit as many greens as I could and just play solid the whole day and try to putt at a great speed and if I make some putts it's great," he said.

"I don't know how it has gone that fast but I am just trying to do my job the best that I can and doing the best thing I can every day.

"It puts me in this place because I work the right way so I'm just trying to keep going and do the same thing every day.

"Today doesn't matter. I just try to do everything great and we'll see where it puts me at the end of the week but obviously I'm working for that and I'm ready to face everything."

After his steady start, Vaillant hit smart approaches into the sixth and eighth and then made a two-putt birdie on the par-five ninth to turn in 33.

He then left himself nine feet for eagle after driving the par-four tenth but had to settle for a birdie, adding another two-putt gain on the par-five 13th and leaving himself just five feet at the 15th.

A 38-footer on the 17th then had him in a share of the lead and he hit the front on his own with a nice approach into the last.

Lombard has two top tens and has not finished outside the top 25 in six starts this season and he continued that fine form despite opening with a bogey.

He recovered with four birdies before the turn, almost holing out for eagle at the sixth, and nearly aced the 12th as he recorded four in a row from the ninth.

A closing birdie then got him to seven under where he would be joined by Girrbach.

The Challenge Tour graduate was four under after five after starting on the tenth and while he dropped a shot on the 16th, he hit back with gains on the 17th, third, fifth and sixth.

Del Rey made an eagle on the fifth after driving it to six feet in his 66, while Friedrichsen dropped a single shot and Cockerill and Strydom each made two bogeys.

England's Marcus Armitage, Swede Jens Dantorp, South African Dylan Frittelli, Dane Rasmus Højgaard and Scotland's Scott Jamieson were at five under.

Armitage made the eighth hole-in-one of the season when he holed a wedge from 131 yards on the 12th and we did not have to wait long for the ninth as later China's Chen Guxin needed one blow from 196 yards with a three iron at the second.

Read next