*** ----> Vaillant goes atop leaderboard | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Vaillant goes atop leaderboard

TDT | Manama                                                       

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

Tom Vaillant put in a sublime display over the Royal Golf Club course yesterday to card an eight-under-par 64 and edge into a one-shot lead over Zander Lombard and Joel Girrbach on day one of the Bahrain Championship presented by Bapco Energies.

“It was pretty good,” said the Frenchman, who carded a superb five-under-par back nine, which included back-to-back birdies to finish. “We were lucky with the conditions compared to what’s predicted for tomorrow so I just tried to take advantage of it.

“I tried to hit as many greens as I could and just played solid the whole day. Tried to putt at great speed and I made some putts, it’s great.” The 22-year-old has been on a meteoric rise though the golfing ranks with consecutive promotions over the last two years.

In 2022, he graduated from the Alps Tour after a third-place finish on the Order of Merit before being promoted to the DP World Tour after finishing 12th in the Road to Mallorca Rankings in his debut season on the Challenge Tour last year.

“I don’t know how it goes that fast but I’m just trying to do my job the best I can every day and hopefully that takes me to the right place,” he said. “I just try to keep going and do the same things every day.”

Lombard and Girrbach posted a matching pair of 65s to lie in a share of second place ahead of what is set to be a blustery day two at the Royal Golf Club. South Africa’s Lombard recovered from a bogey, when he three putted the opening hole, to go blemish free for the rest of the day, carding eight birdies en route to his seven under par round.

It was the continuation of a long run of consistent form from the 29-year-old which began at the back end of 2023 and has seen him finish in the top 25 in his last seven outings. “Again, more solid golf, lots of fairways and greens,” he said.

“The greens made me look stupid on a few of the holes but it was just so tricky to get the pace. There’s a lot of slope and they are quite slow but I managed to stick in there, found my rhythm on the putter and holed a few nice ones.


“I’ve got good routines and I’ve got a good team behind me. I feel like we work on the right stuff. I just feel like I don’t have any bad things in my game. I’m doing everything really well and solid and it’s all accumulating to good scores.”

Girrbach was quick out of the blocks, picking up four shots in his opening five holes after starting his round on the 10th hole. His only slip up of the day came when he narrowly missed his par putt on the par three 16th as he posted his best round of the season.

“I’m very happy with that start,” said the Swiss. “Obviously, starting the week with a 65, you’d always take that! It was a very solid round, not many mistakes, a little bit of luck, and it all came together!”

There are growing signs that the Challenge Tour graduate is becoming accustomed to life on the DP World Tour having missed the cut in each of his first three starts at the end of 2023 before a solid showing at last week’s Ras Al Khaimah Championship resulted in a top 20 finish.

“End of last year I was a bit empty to be honest,” he said. “I think last week was a good start to the new year. It feels like I’m playing well now. I’m feeling good, feeling confident and hopefully I can keep going.

“I think it’s going to be quite windy (tomorrow). You just need to stay in the game and wait for your chances and play sometimes a bit in defence mode. Let’s see but after today I’m going to be confident for tomorrow.”


Canada’s Aaron Cockerill, Dane Sebastian Friedrichsen, Spain’s Alejandro del Rey and South African Ockie Strydom share fourth place on six under par, one clear of a group of five on five-under-par, including England’s Marcus Armitage, who recorded his first professional hole-in-one at the parthree 12th hole.

Armitage made the eighth hole-in-one of the season from 131 yards. It did not take long for the ninth hole-in-one of 2024 emerged, as later China’s Chen Guxin needed one blow from 196 yards with a three iron at the second hole.

General admission to the tournament is free of charge for spectators while there are also a host of premium experiences available. All tickets will include access to the tournament’s Village Square, which boasts a wealth of activities for the whole family to enjoy.

Little ones are being entertained in the Kids Zone with face painting, glitter stations and roaming entertainers, while live music from local bands, free golf lessons, food trucks and an activation dedicated to Bahraini culture will ensure fans enjoy the off-course action just as much as the thrilling golf on offer at Royal Golf Club.