World No. 1 Spieth joint-second after shooting 67
World No. 1 goes about his business in style for a 67 and joint-second spot
Phones were at the ready, and necks craned, all to catch a glimpse of Jordan Spieth.
And there were many of them.
This was no Saturday evening on Singapore's fun island, but a Thursday morning before the sun would rise high into the Sentosa sky.
It was 7.50am to be exact, but already some 200 people bunched around the 10th tee of Sentosa Golf Club's Serapong course yesterday for the first round of the US$1 million ($1.43m) SMBC Singapore Open.
Spieth is the world's No. 1 golfer, clearly worth an early start, but there was a murmur from those gathered there as they spotted Jay Danzi, Spieth's manager, jogging, with golf bag in tow, trying to keep up with Spieth's stride to the tee box.
Fatigue, and the absence of the convalescing regular caddie Michael Greller, some feared, would hinder Spieth's game, but the Texan did not disappoint.
He carded a four-under 67 to share the lead with South Korean An Byeong Hun before South African Keith Horne birdied the final hole to take a one-stroke outright lead.
American Berry Henson is also on five under, but he was one of 57 players who could not finish their round yesterday, due to inclement weather, and will tee off at 7.30am today.
"Jay stepped in extremely well and it's a tough place to come in and caddie when you're not used to carrying the bag, with the weather," said the 22-year-old Spieth.
"But he's caddied for me before... (and) he took it like a champ.
"It was a stress-free round. I got off to a great start.
"Birdie on the first, then I had two great shots in the second and just misread the putt, (but) then after my fourth hole (Hole 13), I just didn't have many looks. I didn't get the ball inside 15 feet."
It may have been a bogey-free round for Spieth, but the Serapong course was no walk in the park.
"Typically, I don't use a practice stroke when I putt unless I'm only trying to coast it near the hole," he said. "But I had to do that on eight or nine of the greens."
"I was curious about where the pins would be and they did a great job of putting them where the grain changes on the green which make it tricky, making it look like it's not that hard. It played very similar to a pretty challenging PGA Tour event."
The 600 fans eventually joining the Spieth trailing horde were not the only ones interested in how he was doing.
Hideto Tanihara held a one-stroke lead as he teed up at the fourth, with Singaporean Mardan Mamat in the flight just ahead, and Spieth in the flight behind him.
With play being held up after a lost ball following a wayward tee-shot by Mardan, the Japanese golfer could not help but steal glances at Spieth putting on the third hole.
Indeed, like fans on the course, Tanihara's neck craned once and again, to catch a glimpse of Spieth, even as the 37-year-old addressed his own ball.
Tanihara managed to par that hole, but bogeyed the very next, eventually ending the day with a 68, and tied for fourth
But Tanihara's flight-mate, An, was unfettered by the delay. Indeed, he was spurred by Spieth's presence.
"I wasn't really (affected by the delay). It was a bit of a (hill to) climb from (the second hole) to third, it was good to be able to sit on my bag for a bit," said the 24-year-old.
"Obviously, it's always good to have the world's No. 1 golfer playing in the same event.
"He's a good player and it's good to have him bring in more crowds. I get to watch him play, so you know, it's a really good thing for everyone."
Horne, 44, was pleased to be able to keep up with golf's rising young guns.
"I think they (Spieth and An) were just born when I turned professional, so it's always nice when you play well and get off to a great start," he said.
"I put a new driver in the bag today and I hit it so far and straight and that made a huge difference.
"I managed to hit it longer by about 15 yards... (and) I putted great today which was important.
"Hopefully, I can keep this going for the next three days."
Second round tee times
7.40am: Jamie Donaldson, Koumei Oda, Thaworn Wiratchant
7.50am: Yang Yong Eun, Shingo Katayama, Jeev Milkha Singh
12.30pm: An Byeong Hun, Hideto Tanihara, Prayad Marksaeng
12.40pm: Jordan Spieth, Kim Kyung Tae, Yusaku Miyazato
2.10pm: Azuma Yano, Moon Kyong Jun, Quincy Quek
- Fifty-seven golfers will complete the first round from 7.30am.