When offered congratulations for taking the first-round lead, Mitchell Slorach's immediate reaction was: "What? Even-par lead?"
Having left the Sentosa Golf Club an hour before the last flight came in yesterday, Slorach, who teed off early, expressed complete surprise that he was sitting atop the leaderboard with his 71 in the third leg of the FTAG Singapore Pro Series.
The 33-year-old, who holds a two-stroke lead over four players, then endorsed the truism that the challenging Serapong course can reduce men to boys because it penalises errant shots heavily and is one that demands top-level, consistent play.
The affable Slorach then underlined that the exacting Singapore Open venue is an ideal practice layout for professionals who aspire to perform well beyond our shores as it demands the best out of you while seeking confidence and motivation.
The Sentosa member should know best for in a social round three years ago, he shot a 10-under 61, spiced with two eagles and six birdies in a pressure-free round where pin placements were easier and green speeds manageable.
So under tight, tougher conditions yesterday, he bagged four birdies against four bogeys, and thoroughly enjoyed his birdie on the 515-metre par-five finishing hole with some unorthodox play.
He hit a 270-metre drive right, into the trees, pinched the ball out and then punched below the branches over 170m to seven metres from the flag.
Then, to his amazement, he sank the putt, unlike the frustrating misses from almost two metres for his four bogeys that cost him an under-par round.
Woman pro Amanda Tan, also a Sentosa member, is among four players tied for second with Jesse Yap, Gregory Foo and Mardan Mamat on 73, while leading amateur Daryl Low is overall joint-ninth among 24 players on 75.
Leaderboard (top five): 71 Mitchell Slorach. 73 Jesse Yap, Amanda Tan, Gregory Foo, Mardan Mamat.