Singapore Open: Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson off to strong starts at Sentosa
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 16/01/20 2:14pm
Ryder Cup team-mates Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson both made encouraging starts to the SMBC Singapore Open as they ended the first day three shots off the lead.
All three members of the 2016 Olympic Games podium are in contention at Sentosa Golf Club, with Rose (gold) and Stenson (silver) both firing three-under 68s while Rio bronze medallist, Matt Kuchar, is just one off the pace after a 66.
Thailand's Kosuke Hamamoto celebrated his debut in the tournament with a bogey-free 65 which earned him the outright lead ahead of a quartet of players which included Kuchar, the American making an eagle and five birdies while blotting his card with a double-bogey six at the 13th.
Rose started with a bogey at the 10th, but that proved to be his lone mistake of the round as he hit back with four birdies, while Stenson offset five birdies with two dropped shots in his solid opener.
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"My game was not exactly great," said world No 9 Rose, who is making his first start since the Hero World Challenge in December. "I did not hit many good shots today but I think I managed my game very well.
"I was never in a lot of trouble so even though I was not playing well I always managed to be in decent positions - managing the bad shots, I guess. So I was very happy to make some birdies and shoot three under, which I think is a good start.
"There is a lot I have to work on. The best part of my game today was managing the golf course. I could have played the par-fives better. I hit good tee shots but then I messed up from there on the 18th and the seventh. I had really good opportunities, but those are the only parts of my round that I think I could have done better.
"Hopefully I can get a little bit more comfortable with my game. This is the first round of 2020 for me, so it is good to get it in the 60s and hopefully it is something I can build on. I feel like I can make more putts and I feel I can hit the ball a little bit better. So I am excited about trying to get better each day."
Stenson is also teeing up for the first time in 2020 and began his round with back-to-back birdies, and he joked: "It was certainly the best round of the year so far!. I think my putting was on today, I made some really good putts, some for birdies and some for par saves.
"I was happy to start off the year and get going again. It is always on the wish list to hope you are going to do better the next day but golf is an outdoor sport. We do not know it may blow three times as hard and 71 may be a great score tomorrow."
There are 45 players who were still out on the course when play was suspended due to darkness, with the tournament being suspended for an hour in the afternoon because of the threat of thunderstorms.