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Thursday, April 17, 2014
Westwood grabs early lead in Malaysian Open
Lee Westwood lines up a putt during his opening round at the Maybank Malaysian Open. He has the lead in the opening round with a seven-under 65. – S.S. Kanesan / THE STAR
KUALA LUMPUR: Former world number one Lee Westwood of England showed no effects of jet lag as he fired a seven-under 65 to take the opening round clubhouse lead at the Maybank Malaysian Open at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
Westwood, who flew here straight after an impressive seventh placing at the US Masters in Augusta last Sunday, leads by one over 2012 Ryder Cup team-mate Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium.
Michael Hoey of Italy and Ricardo Santos of Portugal were a further two shots back in third place at the US$2.75mil (RM8.9mil) event jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
Westwood sent out a reminder of why he could be the Asian specialist as he birdied the last three holes before play was suspended for 78 minutes due to the threat of lightning. A total of 42 players in the field of 155 will return at 7.40am on Friday to complete the first round after play was halted for the day due to darkness.
Westwood, who has won 12 out of his 40 titles in Asia including the 1997 Malaysian Open, had an early scare when he opened with a bogey on the par-five 10th hole. But he recovered with a late flourish when he birdied from eight feet and holed a huge 25-footer on eight. He completed a hat-trick of birdies with a 15-foot curling shot on the last hole.
“I did not make the best of starts, bogeying the par-five 10th, the first hole of the day, but fortunately that did not set the tone for the day. “I hit it really well and hit it close a lot. I had to be patient because I was hitting good putts and they weren’t going in,” said Westwood.
The Englishman, currently ranked world No. 37, was delighted to continue his momentum from the year’s opening Major. ”I played well last week and I am happy to carry that on today. ”Obviously this is a slightly harder golf course than Augusta but if you are shooting low scores at Augusta, you should expect to come here and shoot low scores, which I did.
”It was a good round of golf in tricky conditions. It’s obviously very hot and you have to keep hydrated. ”The course is soft so it’s playing its longest, and the greens are firm – it’s testament to how good the construction of the greens are when you consider the rain we’ve had over the past couple of days,” he said.