After firing seven birdies in his last round at Macao on Sunday, Anirban Lahiri kept the momentum going with six more birdies in his first eight holes at the CIMB Classic golf tournament at Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.
Despite a bogey-bogey finish on the front nine of the course, which was his second nine, Lahiri carded six-under 66 to be tied fifth at the end of the first day.
Lahiri was eight-under after 14 holes and seemed set for the lead when he bogeyed the last two holes.
The first round leaders were defending champion Justin Thomas, Derek Fathauer and Keegan Bradley in the USD 7 million tournament sanctioned by the PGA Tour and Asian Tour, the only PGA Tour-sanctioned tournament in Southeast Asia.
India’s other two representatives at the event, Gaganjeet Bhullar (73) and SSP Chawrasia (74) were way behind in Tied-64th and Tied-69th place.
After a brilliant first nine with birdies on 11th and 12th and then four in a row from 14th to 17th, Lahiri was six-under 30 at the turn at the TPC Kuala Lumpur where he won the Malaysian Open last season.
Lahiri, a seven-time Asian Tour winner, was very disappointed with the finish.
“That front nine (his second nine), I could have done a lot more (better). To finish the day like that (bogey-bogey) is obviously a bitter taste in my mouth. But it’s still a decent start. I would have liked to definitely be a couple shots better, if not three,” said Lahiri.
Lahiri, who is still looking for his win on PGA Tour and for the year, 2016, admitted, “I’m definitely in a good place mentally. It just depends on how long I can sustain it.
“I had it going pretty much all day and just a couple of loose shots in the end that cost me but it could easily have been a couple of shots better. I have to just try and sustain that over next 54 holes to give myself a good shot on Sunday.
“I’ve just got to take it one round at a time, whatever happened is behind me, but obviously there’s a good, solid amount of confidence coming into this week and I just need to play with that for the rest of the event.”
The 23-year-old Thomas overcame searing heat and humidity in the Malaysia capital by shooting nine birdies against a lone bogey for a 64, which was matched by fellow Americans Keegan Bradley and Derek Fathauer.
Paul Casey, the world’s number 12, shot a 65 to trail by one while Lahiri shot 66.
Asian Tour honorary member KJ Choi of Korea and Japanese duo Hideki Matsuyama and Ryo Ishikawa were next best Asians after Lahiri in tied 16th place after scoring matching 69s.
Korea’s Wang, who played alongside Thomas and Adam Scott of Australia, wielded a cold putter as he carded three birdies. He played in the featured group with Justin Thomas and Adam Scott (70).