Tom Vaillant carded an eight-under par 64 to take a one-shot lead after the first round of the Bahrain Championship. Image Credit: Supplied

Manama: France’s Tom Vaillant finished strongly to card an eight-under par 64 and take a one-shot lead after the first round of the Bahrain Championship on Thursday.

The 22-year-old, in his first full season on the European tour, holds the lead over South Africa’s Zander Lombard and Joel Girrbach of Switzerland.

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The Frenchman’s flawless opening round began with him parring the first five holes, but Vaillant closed out the front nine with three birdies, and ended his round with birdies on the final two holes.

Great putting

“I just tried to hit as many greens as I could and just play solid the whole day and try to putt at a great speed and if I make some putts it’s great,” Vaillant said.

Denmark’s Rasmus Hojgaard is three shots off the lead in eighth place, hitting an eagle at the last to make up for two earlier bogeys.

The tournament marks a return to the DP World Tour for Bahrain after 13 years, and the first round witnessed two holes-in-one, Chen Guxin at the second and Marcus Armitage on the 12th.