SCOTLAND’S Martin Laird shot a four-under round of 68 as Ryan Moore set the pace this morning on the opening day of the CIMB Classic at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club, while in Shanghai Craig Lee is the leading Scot in the BMW Masters with another American, Luke Guthrie, out in front.
In Malaysia, Moore shrugged off the jet-lag caused by a 9,000-mile trip from Las Vegas to Malaysia to fire a nine-under-par 63 and lead by two shots from fellow American Keegan Bradley.
Spain’s Sergio Garcia returned a flawless 66 to lie outright third with five players a shot further back. Laird’s 68 came courtesy of four birdies in succession from the 11th.
After carding rounds of 69-63-69-68 to finish ninth in the defence of his title in last week’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, Moore recovered from a bogey on the first hole today with five birdies in six holes from the fourth.
The 30-year-old picked up five more shots on the back nine to overhaul former US PGA champion Bradley, who had earlier completed a flawless 65.
In contrast, Open champion Phil Mickelson struggled to a 71 that featured five birdies but two double bogeys, including one on the ninth - his final hole - after driving into the water. “I can’t remember swinging this bad in a long time,” the left-hander said. “I’m not sure if the ball is going to go dead left or snap hook right. I can’t find the centre of the clubface.
On the European Tour, American Guthrie also made light of a marathon journey to set a daunting clubhouse target in the first round of the BMW Masters.
Guthrie finished fifth in Vegas on Sunday after a closing 64 and carried on where he left off at Lake Malaren in Shanghai.
The 23-year-old, who only turned professional last year, carded birdies at the second, third and seventh to reach the turn in 33, before also picking up shots on the 13th and 14th and chipping in for an eagle on the par-five 15th.
After saving par on the final three holes, Guthrie signed for a flawless seven-under-par 65 to lead by three shots from former Open champion John Daly, who also tamed the windy conditions to card a 68 that did not feature a single bogey.
“It was a great day,” Guthrie said. “It was one of the better rounds I’ve ever played. I was really looking forward to this tournament on my schedule and I just can’t be more happy to be here.”
Lee is in a tie for fourth after his two-under 70, while Scott Jamieson went round in 72, Marc Warren carded a one-over 73, Paul Lawrie went round in 74 and Stephen Gallacher struggled to a five-over 77.
Slow start for Matthew
On the LPGA Tour. defending champion Suzann Pettersen took an early lead in the $2 million Sunrise Championship in Taiwan, as she presses her bid to overtake South Korea’s Inbee Park at the top of the rankings.
Pettersen carded a 4-under 68 in the first round Thursday on the Sunrise course in the Taipei suburb of Yangmei. She had a three-stroke lead over Americans Alison Walshe and Irene Cho and Caroline Hedwall of Sweden with most of the players in the field finished their rounds.
Even with a victory in Taiwan, Pettersen cannot overhaul Park this week. But a good result will set up a nail-biting finish to the LPGA season. Park is not participating in the Taiwan event.
Scotland’s Catriona Matthew is three-over after a 75.