Opening day of highs at Singapore Open, says Godfrey Robert
Hail Horne, and we're in awe of Spieth, proud of Quek and in love with big-hitting Lee
Even a drizzle could not end the frenzy of exaltation and adulation for Jordan Spieth.
As the American walked off the ninth green (his final hole) at mid-day yesterday, there were many whispers of his golfing greatness.
And, despite suffering from a little fatigue, he obliged the autograph- hunters who tossed caps and paper as he ambled towards the scorers' tent at Sentosa's Serapong course.
The scoring formality done, he was not left alone as the press corps hounded him with questions following which a security ring followed him.
Despite that cover, the affable personality obliged the desperate "strays" with his signature, and many went away with the impression that he is a golfing god.
Why not? He is the world No. 1, and at only 22 bagged a cool US$22 million ($31.5m) in prize money last year.
But, even as he disappeared in a limousine to the clubhouse, the majority of the 1,000 fans who watched him make an easy par on the par-four ninth were digesting what they saw over the previous four hours.
If the birdie start on the 10th hole left a major impression very early on the fans, it was Spieth's second shot that mesmerised many.
Averaging 275 metres in driving length, his second shots even from difficult positions - especially on the par-fives - were sheer magic.
Little wonder he found the par-fives in two and made birdies on all three long holes for his four-under 67 and joint-second spot.
So to summarise their verdicts: Drives, good; second shots, brilliant; approach shots, supreme; short game, marvellous; putting, good.
While all this indulgence was going on, the crowds too began to desert the venue, leaving only mere hundreds to capture some of the drama thereafter.
A 44-year-old South African, born in Durban and with hardly much to show in his 20-year professional career (boasting only eight Sunshine Tour wins) was taming the much-acclaimed Serapong course.
Having just kept his playing status on the Asian Tour by finishing in 59th place on the Order of Merit, Keith Horne was the unlikely star of the day.
Followed by only a handful of fans, he bagged seven birdies and rued two bogeys in a remarkable round where his stat for greens-in-regulation read: 15/18.
And, as the six-footer left the ninth green with a birdie to some applause, there was more good news to follow from the next flight.
Singapore's Quincy Quek, who once waited in vain for a Singapore Open slot at Serapong as first reserve, did the country proud with a three-under 68 to entrench himself in joint-fourth place.
Impeccable was his showing, a round marked with three birdies and no bogeys. How else can you describe Quek's display, after having just gained his Asian Tour card through the Q-School early this month?
The sudden change of the weather that finally caused play to be suspended at 6.39pm drove many fans away.
But the few who stayed also lapped up the rare entertainment provided by big-hitting Korean-born Australian Lee Won Joon, who has been known to have smacked a 365-metre drive in a competition.
While his flightmates, Singapore's Jerome Ng and Japan's Mikumu Horikawa, took out the driver on most holes on a wind-shifting day, Lee's No. 1 club rarely came out of his bag.
His two-irons off the tee were just about 15 metres short of what Ng and Horikawa were doing with their drivers, many times leaving fans gaping and gasping.
And finally when he took out the driver on the 500-metre par-five 18th, he was left with a 180-metre approach that helped him to an eagle after he sank an 18-footer.
So this SMBC Singapore Open is special, not only because of Spieth.