It is touted as Asia's Toughest Test and the World Classic course at Laguna National Golf and Country Club certainly lived up to its fearsome reputation yesterday.
Only six golfers in the field of 144 broke par on the opening day of the inaugural World Classic Championship, with 21 yet to complete their rounds after play was halted because of fading light.
Four players - Australia's Sam Brazel and Scott Barr, South Korea's Wang Jeung Hun and Thailand's Natipong Srithong - shot identical two-under 69s to co-lead the US$750,000 (S$1.07 million) tournament. It is the only Asian Tour stop in Singapore.
They have a one-stroke lead over American Berry Henson and Filipino Miguel Tabuena.
Among the big names to falter on the course nicknamed "The Beast" were Asian Tour regulars such as Indian Jeev Milkha Singh, winner of the 2008 Singapore Open; American David Lipsky, last year's Asian Tour Order of Merit winner; and Thai Thaworn Wiratchant, holder of the most victories on the Asian Tour with 18.
JOB WELL DONE
This course is so difficult and to be among the leaders is something I can be proud of.
The trio all shot 76 to lie seven shots off the pace.
Singapore golfer Lam Chih Bing, who carded a 77, said: "The course leaves no margin for error. All the holes out there are tough. It's the toughest course I've ever played.
"I'm obviously hoping to avoid double (bogeys) and to make putts tomorrow but it's difficult when the margin of error is so slim."
69 Wang Jeung Hun (Kor), Sam Brazel (Aus), Natipong Srithong (Tha), Scott Barr (Aus).
70 Berry Henson (USA), Miguel Tabuena (Phi).
71 Paul Peterson (USA), Chinnarat Phadungsil (Tha), Charlie Wi (Kor), Unho Park (Aus), Shaun Norris (Rsa), Lindsay Renolds (Can), Atiwit Janewattananond (Tha), Namchok Tantipokhakul (Tha), Siddikur Rahman (Ban).
72 Anura Rohana (Sri), Shiv Kapur (Ind), Danthai Boonma (Tha), Jbe Kruger (Rsa), Panuphol Pittayarat (Tha).
73 Goh Kun Yang (Sin), Rory Hie (Ina), Tirawat Kaewsiribandit (Tha), Lien Lu-sen (Tpe), Khalin Joshi (Ind), Janne Kaske (Fin), Prom Meesawat (Tha), S.S.P. Chawrasia (Ind), Danny Chia (Mas), Niall Turner (Irl), Thitiphun Chuayprakong (Tha), Josh Younger (Aus).
76 Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind), Thaworn Wiratchant (Tha), David Lipsky (USA).
Natipong, 20, said: "This course is so difficult and to be among the leaders is something I can be proud of.
"I managed to hit 16 greens today which is nice as it's not easy."
Barr, who has been based at Laguna for the past five years, took full advantage of his familiarity with the 6,935-yard course, which is notorious for its treacherous slopes and tricky greens.
The 43-year-old Australian was three over after seven holes but recovered with four birdies on the back nine.
He said with a wide smile: "It's my home club and it's a huge advantage for me as I'm very familiar with it.
"It's a funny course, a bit on the extreme side from what golfers are normally used to. The slopes and the undulating greens make it a great challenge for us.
"On some days, you can hit good shots but don't end up getting the results you want, but today I'm happy to play good golf and get rewarded."
Unlike Barr, Singapore's top golfer Mardan Mamat could not capitalise on the homeground advantage.
The Singaporean, back at the same venue just two months after winning the MST Golf Classic, regretted his decision to finish off the round in fading light and in haste.
He double-bogeyed the last hole to sign for a 74 and lamented: "I made a stupid mistake.
"I shouldn't have played the 18th hole.
"I started to rush to finish and finished for nothing."