Flint leads in Singapore, big names share second

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SINGAPORE, Nov 1 (Reuters) Australia's Gavin Flint moved into an early two-shot lead at the million Singapore Open today, birdying the final two holes of his first round to complete a five-under-par 66.

Teeing off in the third group of the morning in benign conditions, Flint shot five birdies in a bogey-free round to move away from American world number two Phil Mickelson and South Korea's K.J. Choi, who share second place after matching 68s.

Australia's Adam Scott, seeking a hat-trick of titles here this week, enjoyed a solid start, the world number six ending his round in a share of 10th place after a one-under 70 on the demanding Serapong Course.

Fiji's Vijay Singh also shot 70, while hopes of a local victory were dashed when Singapore's leading player Mardan Mamat was disqualified after he signed for a three-under 68 instead of 69.

Asian Tour player Flint was delighted with his morning's work.

''I hit the ball and putted really well today,'' the 26-year-old told reporters after two sublime approach shots on the closing holes set up the back-to-back birdies.

''There are four or five really strong holes that you must have good tee shots on. I was able to do that, which is probably the key to going low on this course.'' Playing in Asia for the first time, Mickelson led at the turn before a double-bogey six on the third (his 12th) and some erratic driving stalled his charge.

''The fairways are tight from tee to green,'' the 37-year-old said. ''I was lucky to escape with a three-under. If I can get my driver and three-wood turned around, I should enjoy three good remaining days.

''It's a good test of golf. I am not surprised about that because I knew we were going to be tested here.'' South Africa's Ernie Els, U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera of Argentina and Britain's Lee Westwood were among those teeing off in the afternoon.

REUTERS RAR DS1250

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