Cutting out some “slack stuff” was the key as Marc Warren equalled the lowest round of the season on the European Tour to open up a two-shot lead after the first day of the Maybank Championship in Malaysia.
The 35-year-old mixed 11 birdies with a triple-bogey, three double-bogeys and seven bogeys as he missed the cut by four shots despite being on the favourable half of the draw in last week’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
It was much more like it, though, as he didn’t put a foot wrong in carding a nine-under-par 63 at Saujana Golf and Country Club to set a hot pace in the £2.4 million event in Kuala Lumpur.
“I have been making a lot of birdies but a lot of mistakes as well,” said Warren, who made the cut in both Abu Dhabi and Qatar before his early exit in Dubai.
“Last week I made 11 birdies in two days but missed the cut, so it’s just a matter of trying to keep the positive stuff going, making the birdies and cutting out the slack stuff, which I managed today.”
The effort, which matched his opening round in the Portugal Masters last October, was a 10-shot improvement on his first-day score in this event 12 months ago, when he missed the cut.
Out in the third group of the day, Warren took full advantage of the favourable early conditions, getting off to a fast start with birdies at the first, third, fourth and sixth holes before moving up a gear with an eagle at the 534-yard par-5 eighth.
The three-time European Tour winner then knocked his tee-shot on the par-3 12th to 15 feet before adding further birdies at the 14th and 17th to round off a superb morning’s work as he matched the 63s carded by both Graeme Storm and Edoardo Molinari in last month’s SA Open.
“It was a good tee time, nice and early before the wind picks up,” said the East Kilbride man. “Once it did on the back nine, it was just a case of staying solid and hitting the greens.
“My iron play was very good today and it was nice to get around without a bogey. More of the same tomorrow would be nice.”
Warren’s nearest challenger is Thai teenager Phachara Khongwatmai while Masters champion Danny Willett is a shot further back after his first bogey-free effort since last May.
“It is a tough golf course, especially with the wind and the heat and everything else, and grainy greens, too,” said the leader.
“If you shoot a score of nine under, you’re putting really well, so I’ll take a lot of confidence from today and move on to tomorrow.”
David Drysdale opened with a level-par 72 to sit in a tie for 67th, just ahead of Richie Ramsay after his 73.