Golf: Foursome share World Classic 1st-round lead on two under, Mardan trails by five

SINGAPORE - Australia's Sam Brazel and Scott Barr, South Korea's Wang Jeung Hun and Thailand's Natipong Srithong shot identical two-under 69 to be joint leaders after the first round at the inaugural US$750,000 (S$1.07 million) World Classic Championship at Laguna National on Thursday.

Singapore's top golfer Mardan Mamat, back at the same venue just two months after his triumph in the MST Golf Classic, double-bogeyed the last hole in fading light to sign for a 74, five strokes behind the leaders.

Goh Kun Yang was the top Singaporean finisher with a two-over 73.

The aesthetically stunning 7,350-yard, par-71 World Classic course at Laguna is touted as Asia's toughest course.

And its notoriously treacherous slopes and tricky greens wore down most of the players, with only six in the 144-strong field of golfers breaking par at the end of the first day of competition.

Brazel came out swinging, posting six birdies in a 12-hole stretch to lead by three strokes, going five under, at one point. But two bogeys on the 14th and 15th and a further double-bogey on the 17th dropped him into a share of the lead with the chasing pack.

Wang returned with a tidier scorecard, recording four birdies and two bogeys, while Srithong traded five birdies with a bogey and a double-bogey.

Barr, who has been based at Laguna National for the past five years, made full use of his home-ground advantage. The Australian hit four birdies on the back nine to make a late charge to the top of the packed leader board.

Play was halted because of darkness and 21 players will finish their opening round tomorrow.