November 12, 2008

Bing Takes Center Stage

Local Singapore sensation, Lam Chih Bing, finished with three-straight biridies and was the clubhouse leader when darkness halted play

With big names like Mickelson and Els playing, Bing's lead was surprising.

With big names like Mickelson and Els playing, Bing's lead was surprising.

SINGAPORE (AP) -- Lam Chih Bing upstaged the big names to take a first-round lead at the Singapore Open on Thursday in a bid to become the first local player to win the tournament.

Lam birdied three of the final four holes to finish with a 4-under 67 and the clubhouse lead over Australia's Marcus Both (68) in an opening round delayed by lightning. Play was halted because of darkness with almost half the field unable to finish their opening rounds.

"I hit a lot of fairways, hit a lot of greens today, and I'm thrilled to be top of the leaderboard," said the 31-year-old Lam.

South Africa's Ernie Els, who lost this tournament in a playoff in 2006 before missing the cut last year, was three under after 14 holes when play was called off, leaving him tied for second on the leaderboard with Both, England's Oliver Wilson and India's Digvijay Singh.

Phil Mickelson, who lost his No. 2 ranking to Spain's Sergio Garcia last week, shot 73 and is six strokes off the pace in the $5 million event. He recovered after bogeys on four of the first six holes.

"I know two-over par doesn't sound good, but I will actually take it now. I got off to a terrible start," Mickelson said. "This was the worst chipping round I have had in years."

Play was dogged by rain for most of the morning.

"The conditions were windy, it was rain, it was tough," Mickelson said.

Ireland's Padraig Harrington, winner of two majors in 2008, had a 72, while two-time winner Adam Scott of Australia struggled with a 76.

Englishman Ian Poulter withdrew from the tournament after he was unable to replace a driver that was stolen in Shanghai last week.

American Bryan Saltus retired after he dislocated his right knee slipping on his second shot of the first hole.