Tom McKibbin hailed the influence of Rory McIlroy after he shot a superb 64 to top the leaderboard after the opening round of the Singapore Classic.

The 20-year-old Holywood native picked up three birdies on the front nine, and really hit his groove on the front nine with five birdies in his last eight holes.


It means McKibbin, ranked 308th in the world, has a one-shot lead at the top of the leaderboard.

France's Matthieu Pavon, Finland's Sami Valimaki and the Swedish pair of Simon Forsstrom and Joakim Lagergren are all a shot further back after their rounds of 65 as the players tamed a 7,420-yard course known locally as 'The Beast'.

"A very good day," was McKibbin's reflection post round.

"I went out there after the practice rounds, the course was pretty tricky. If you find the wrong spots on the greens. I navigated the course well, eight birdies and no bogeys is a nice way to start."

"Life's pretty nice if you're playing well, it's different if you're not. I'm enjoying it. I've played enough of these events that it feels normal to me now, but it's great fun.

"I've played with Rory quite a bit, I've been able to watch him and playing with him has been valuable for me to see where my game is at. It's been good for me to have some moments with him."

McKibbin, who finished in a tie for 36th last week at the Ras Al Khaimah Championship, began his rookie professional campaign in impressive fashion with successive top-20s in the Jo’burg Open, the South African Open and the Alfred Dunhill Championship.

Pavon looked set to share the lead with Challenge Tour graduate McKibbin before dropping a shot on his final hole, the 30-year-old looking to build on a top-10 finish last week.

"Overall it was pretty good," said Pavon, who held the lead after a blistering start to the final round in Ras Al Khaimah before fading on the back nine.

"My only bogey was on the last, the ninth, but we knew it was a tough hole. I just missed my drive a little bit and was in trouble in the left trap.

"I tried to make a great four to finish, but it was a bad putt, a bad read, but everything else was really, really good.

"[You have] one good week and then you don't know when you'll have the next, it's a new week, a new golf course. I try to follow the process, same practice, same eating schedule and it looks like it's worked out today."

Of the remaining Irish players, Waterford's Gary Hurley sits five strokes back after an opening round of 69, while Cork's John Murphy struggled to a 74, lying on two over par.