Garcia and Kitayama share the clubhouse lead #SingOpen2018

Thu 18 Jan 2018

Garcia and Kitayama share the clubhouse lead #SingOpen2018


Sentosa, Singapore, January 18: Sergio Garcia of Spain and Kurt Kitayama of United States shot matching five-under-par 66s in round one to share the clubhouse lead at the US$1 million SMBC Singapore Open.

Garcia took a while to warm up at the Asian Tour season-opener. The reigning Masters Tournament champion, who teed off at the 10th hole, started with a streak of pars that was ended by a bogey on the 15th. 

However, a birdie-eagle finish on his opening nine helped him find his rhythm and he went on to sink another three birdies before he ended his round.


After finishing tied-third at the Asian Tour Qualifying School last week, Kitayama is physically tired but in high spirits after a great opening round.

It was his first time playing on the award-winning Serapong course and he did exceptionally well, evident from his near-flawless performance. The 25-year-old American scored six birdies against one bogey.

Casey O’Toole of the United States, Koumei Oda of Japan and ex Singapore Open champion Jyoti Randhawa carded matching 68s to share second place.

O’Toole scored the first ace of 2018 at the par-3 second hole of Sentosa Golf Club’s Serapong course. He teed off with a seven-iron, 168 yards from the pin. The American won a five-year Golden Circle membership worth 500,000 points, which is equivalent to a 25-night stay in an executive suite at the Shangri-La Hotel in Tokyo.

Tirawat Kaewsiribandit of Thailand was on his way to share, or even seize the lead before play was suspended at 5.03pm due to lightning risk. The 28-year-old is five-under-par through 16 holes. 

Tirawat birdied the fourth and fired three consecutive birdies from the 16th to 18th to make the turn at 31. The siren sounded after he teed off from the 8th tee box.

78 players have yet to complete round one. They will resume play on Friday, 7.40am.

Did you know:

  • Kurt Kitayama celebrated his 25th birthday just a week ago, on 14th January.
  • The American is enjoying a rich vein of form at the moment. He was tied-third at the Asian Tour Qualifying School (and earned his Asian Tour card for 2018) and finished first at the SMBC Singapore Open Qualifying Tournament.
  • He hails from Chico, California and he went to school at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. Kitayama is ethnically Japanese but he doesn’t speak the language.
  • Sergio Garcia officially switched his equipment brand in early 2018.
  • He won the 2017 Masters Tournament on what would have been compatriot Seve Ballesteros’ 60th birthday.
  • Garcia is expecting the arrival of his first child in March this year, just in time before he defends his title at this year’s Masters Tournament.
  • Along with the one he scored in Singapore, Casey O’Toole has two hole-in-ones in his professional career. He scored one last year in Malaysia at the Royal Selangor Golf Club, also with a seven iron.
  • He won the Asian Development Tour (ADT) Order of Merit in 2015. The ADT is the feeder circuit of the Asian Tour.
  • O’Toole kept his Asian Tour card for 2018 by virtue of his 58th place finish on last year's Asian Tour Order of Merit list.
  • Tirawat Kaewsiribandit enjoyed a tied-11th finish at last year's SMBC Singapore Open. He shot a five-under-par 66 in round three to get within one shot of the lead, but his tournament unraveled after a 74 on Sunday.
  • He is a winner on the Asian Development Tour. He won the Betagro All Thailand Championship by three strokes. More impressively, he did it while fighting a back injury.
  • Tirawat was close to winning his maiden Asian Tour title at the Indonesia Open, but Panuphol Pittayarat was just in irresistible form during that tournament.

Player Interviews:

Kurt Kitayama (Usa) – First Round 66 (-5)

I feel really good about my round. I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course.

Compared to the Tanjong, the Serapong is a lot tighter. The Serapong is a great course. It is tough off the tee and it has big greens. It’s great to have a good round early in the tournament, as it proves that I am able to score well.

I didn’t realise that there’s the possibility of qualifying for The Open this year at this tournament. I’m not too focused on that, to be honest. Although, I know that finishing top-five this week will get me into the tournament next week, in Myanmar.

I’m a little tired, but I’m hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I’ll try not to think too much about golf.

Now that I have an Asian Tour card (after finishing tied-third at the Asian Tour Qualifying School), I’m definitely looking forward to playing on the Asian Tour this year.

Sergio Garcia (Esp) – First Round 66 (-5)

The course is in great shape. You have to drive the ball well and the shots to the green have to be accurate otherwise you may leave yourself with some tricky putts. This is a great tournament to start the year with.

I was one-over-par after seven holes, even though I didn’t feel like I’m playing badly. But, I hit two good six-irons in a row on 17 and 18th, where I made an eagle. That settled me a bit and I was able to play solidly over the back nine.

I’ll keep trusting myself. I’m really comfortable with the equipment that I have. The driver feels great and the ball is amazing. It’s a matter of believing and being positive.

I’ll probably chill a little bit. I did a lot of things right, but I still have lots to work on. I’ll try to stay cool, have a nice dinner and get ready for tomorrow.

Casey O’Toole (Usa) – First Round 68 (-3)

It was a good number for me with the wind. My caddie and I decided to hit three-quarter seven-iron and I hit it; it was solid. The ball landed just short of the hole and released right in. It was a really good shot.

I just got engaged, so my fiancée will probably have a lot to say on how those points will be used. We'll figure it out.

Tirawat Kaewsiribandit (Tha) – five-under through 16 holes

I putted very well today. I also hit irons well and found many fairways. Before this tournament, I had an injury on my foreman. I need to relax and look to playing well.

I’m very happy now, despite not being able to finish my round. I’m just looking forward to carding a good score after 18 holes tomorrow.

Scores after round 1 of the SMBC Singapore Open being played at the par 71, 7398 Yards Sentosa GC course (am - denotes amateur):

66 - Sergio GARCIA (ESP), Kurt KITAYAMA (USA).

68 - Casey O'TOOLE (USA), Koumei ODA (JPN), Jyoti RANDHAWA (IND).

69 - Hiroshi IWATA (JPN), Hiroyuki FUJITA (JPN), Ryo ISHIKAWA (JPN), LIANG Wenchong (CHN), Javi COLOMO (ESP), Gregory FOO (am, SIN), HUNG Chien-yao (TPE), Giwhan KIM (KOR), Masahiro KAWAMURA (JPN), Terry PILKADARIS (AUS).

70 - Gunn CHAROENKUL (THA), David BRANSDON (AUS), Kunihiro KAMII (JPN), Danthai BOONMA (THA), Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA), Matthew GRIFFIN (AUS), Ben LEONG (MAS), Yuki INAMORI (JPN), Ryutaro NAGANO (JPN).

71 - Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA), Danny MASRIN (INA), Younghan SONG (KOR), Gavin GREEN (MAS), Shariffuddin ARIFFIN (MAS), Prom MEESAWAT (THA), Daisuke KATAOKA (JPN), Miguel TABUENA (PHI), Brendan JONES (AUS).

72 - CHAN Shih-chang (TPE), Prayad MARKSAENG (THA), Yusaku MIYAZATO (JPN), Rahil GANGJEE (IND), Mikumu HORIKAWA (JPN), Michael HENDRY (NZL), Seunghyuk KIM (KOR), Keith HORNE (RSA), Chikkarangappa S. (IND).

73 - Shota AKIYOSHI (JPN), Danny CHIA (MAS), Sihwan KIM (USA), Jake HIGGINBOTTOM (AUS), Yasunobu FUKUNAGA (JPN), Daisuke MARUYAMA (JPN), Rikuya HOSHINO (JPN), Chiragh KUMAR (IND).


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As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Rolex (Official Timekeeper), Panasonic (Official Consumer Electronics), ECCO (Official Footwear Sponsor), FENIX XCell (Official Apparel Supplier), Titleist (Official Web Partner), Bloomberg TV (Official International Media Partner), Bloomberg Businessweek Chinese (Official International Media Partner), Wall Street Journal (Official International Media Partner) and Sentosa in Singapore which is the Home of the Asian Tour which also has an office in Kuala Lumpur.

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