SINGAPORE, Apr 6 (Reuters) Australia's Jarrod Lyle fired a five-under-par 67 today to take a one-shot lead after the first round of the 36-hole final Asian qualifiers for this year's British Open.
The 25-year-old Lyle registered five birdies and one eagle at Sentosa Golf Club's par-72 Serapong course to hold a narrow advantage over compatriot Unho Park, who enjoyed six birdies en route to a 68.
Indian pair Shiv Kapur and Jeev Milkha Singh remained well in contention to earn a maiden appearance at the third major of the season after carding matching 69s.
The top three finishers in Singapore qualify for the Open, being played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England from July 20-23.
''Today was good. I played really solid,'' Lyle told reporters.
''Holed a few putts and despite making a few bogeys out there, I was just solid at the back and made a few birdies coming in. I'm just stoked with the round.'' Lyle overcame leukaemia seven years ago and enjoyed a fruitful rookie year on the Asian Tour last season with two second-place finishes.
He started this season strongly with two top-five outings on the Australasian Tour and appears to have brought that form with him this week.
''The key was that I was driving it well and getting into position and hitting greens,'' he added.
''If you put all that together, you're going to hole putts and not make bogeys.'' Three strokes behind the leader are Japan's Soushi Tajima and Australian Richard Moir, while South Korea's Lee Sung, Taiwan's Chang Tse-peng and Australian duo Scott Barr and Adam Le Vesconte are a shot further back after 71s.
Indian prospect Kapur, last year's Asian Tour rookie of the year, was disappointed to miss a couple of short putts but the 24-year-old is hoping for an improved performance on Friday.
''It's a two-round race and I've got to go out tomorrow and fire away,'' he said.
''There are a lot of birdie chances out there. I'll try to go out and finish the job. It's a matter of getting one millimetre more accurate with the putter.'' REUTERS DH HT1600