Golf: South African interloper Horne fires 67, takes surprise lead at SMBC S'pore Open

South African golfer Keith Horne hitting a shot during the first round of the Singapore Open, on Jan 28, 2016.
South African golfer Keith Horne hitting a shot during the first round of the Singapore Open, on Jan 28, 2016.PHOTO: AFP / LAGARDERE SPORTS / KHALID REDZA

SINGAPORE - South African journeyman Keith Horne stole the limelight from his more illustrious peers to emerge the surprise leader after the opening day of the SMBC Singapore Open.

The 44-year-old Durban-native fired a five-under 66 on Thursday to co-lead the US$1 million (S$1.44 million) event. He was joined at the top of the leaderboard by American Berry Henson, who was five-under through 17 holes before play was suspended at 6.39pm due to lightning threats with 57 players yet to complete their round.

They will resume at 7.30am on Friday with the second round projected to start at 8.10am.

Both world No. 1 Jordan Spieth and 2015 European Tour Rookie of the Year An Byeong Hun shot 67 and were joint-third at the Sentosa Golf Club.

Said Horne, who finished eighth at the 2010 edition: "I'm really happy with my result today as I haven't played here for a couple of years. But whenever I do come over here, I generally play well."

The Singapore Open, co-sanctioned by the Asian and Japanese Tours, returns to the Republic after a three-year absence.

Competing for the first time in Singapore and the Serapong Course, Speith, who captured the Masters and US Open last year, said: "My expectations were high coming in, considering how highly people have spoken of this golf course.

"I was curious about where pins would be and they did a great job of putting them where grain changes on the green which makes it tricky, making it look like it's not that hard. It played very similar to a pretty challenging PGA Tour event."

It was a mixed day for the local 12-man brigade with Quincy Quek carding a 68 to sit joint-sixth while amateur Gregory Foo (71) was tied-37th . Singapore No. 1 Mardan Mamat recovered from a triple bogey seven to finish 73 and tied-78 while Lam Chih Bing struggled to a 79 and was tied-150th in the 156-man field.