The David Puig show goes on again uninterrupted as he took the first-round lead today in the US$ 2 million International Series Oman at Al Mouj Golf, on Muscat’s stunning, sunny coastline.

On Sunday, the Spaniard won the IRS Prima Malaysian Open which was the season-opener on the Asian Tour and he now has the lead in the first International Series event of 2024 after shooting a seven-under-par 65, which matched the course record.

His playing partner and fellow LIV Golf player, Joaquin Niemann from Chile, carded a 66 to sit in solo second, while his close friend and compatriot Mito Pereira is next best placed with a 67, along with Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz, Australian Kevin Yuan and Manav Shah from the United States.

This marks Puig’s third successive bogey-free round in the low 60s – he fired back-to-back 62s to win in Malaysia for his second Tour title – and yet the 22-year-old Arizona-based golfer is taking it all in his stride.

“I think this is my form,” he said.

“I improved a lot off the tee and it’s showing now for sure, and my short game has usually been my strength. I feel the last two rounds last week and today’s round have actually been pretty average in terms of that’s where I want to be, but I can do better.

“Obviously, the scores are good. I have had three bogey-free rounds in a row. Which is crazy but I practice for that.”

He birdied four on the bounce from the fifth and made three other birdies.

He added: “We had a good game with Taichi (Kho) and Joaquin, obviously. We helped each other to keep playing better. So it was great fun and the dynamic was good. Joaquin started a little better than me with that eagle on three but I kind of bounced back. We were pretty far under par for seven, eight holes which obviously helps but it was great fun.”

Puig won the International Series Singapore last year for his maiden victory in the pro game and appears to be getting stronger and more confident week after week.

Niemann started today’s round having just learned he has been invited to play in The Masters in April, and that amazing news was clearly reflected in his performance.

He was also bogey-free and made an eagle, and four birdies.

He said: “It was a great day. I started off pretty good, with a birdie and then eagle on three. I kept hitting it well until the end of the round. I think my putter went a little bit off on the back nine but yes it was a good round but could have been better.

“It’s a good course, I like playing here. You have to hit different shots off the tee and to the green you must be a little bit creative with the wind, so it was fun, especially with David who was playing great. We had a good time, especially the way we were playing.”

Like Puig, the Torque GC captain has been one of the game’s in-form players. He shot a stunning 59 on his way to a thrilling play-off victory at the season-opening LIV Golf Mayakoba event in February, and triumphed in the Australian Open, also in extra-time back in December.

Niemann tied for fifth here last year, and Pereira, one of his Torque GC team-mates, also performed well, claiming joint 11th place. Both are clearly happy to be back on a course that was voted by the Asian Tour membership as the best course of the year, along with the Hong Kong Golf Club.

Said the 28-year-old Pereira, from Santiago: “Tee to green was pretty solid, I made some good putts and missed a couple, but was really solid overall. I didn’t make many mistakes, it was great to get it going today.

“I had some good second shots, a really good one on one, almost made it on two. I played here last year, the course is great, at the moment there is less wind than last year, but we’ll see.”

Last year he and Niemann triumphed on four occasions with Torque GC, although Pereira admits he has yet to get going this season after two LIV Golf events in Mayakoba and Las Vegas.

“I haven’t started the year too well so far, but I will try to do my best to improve and win this year,” he said.

“I love playing in these events. Every time I come here the events are growing. I’m really happy to be here. I will play a couple more this year.”

He started on the back nine, making the turn in one under but then put the pedal to the metal on the second half, making birdie on four out of the first five holes.

Defending champion Takumi Kanaya from Japan fired a 70 and is tied for 26th.

Image: Asian Tour