It was an excellent day for Indias seasoned professionals as three of them ended the first day inside top-10 in the star-studded $2.5 million Malaysian Open sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
While Jeev Milkha Singh (65) was one off the leader,Charl Schwartzel of South Africa,Jyoti Randhawa found his touch with a 66 to be tied third and Gaurav Ghei (68),a three-time winner on Asian Tour,was tied ninth. Among other Indians,Shiv Kapur (68) was tied 15th,Sujjan Singh (70) was tied 29th,but the rest had a fight on their hands to make the weekend cut.
Gaganjeet Bhullar,Himmat Rai and Digvijay Singh were tied 76th with 73 each,while SSP Chowrasia (74) was tied 95th and Anirban Lahiri (75) was further down in 109th place and Chiragh Kumar (76) was 123rd.
Schwartzel,the 2010 Masters champion,shot a sizzling eight-under-par 64 to hold a one-shot lead from Jeev. Schwartzel reeled in nine birdies at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club as he took his place atop the leaderboard. Jeev carded an impressive 65 that included one eagle and six birdies,while South African Louis Oosthuizen,last weeks Masters runner-up,overcame a long flight with a 66 for a share of third spot with American Jason Knutzon and Randhawa.
Jeev took off with an opening eagle on the 10th hole,holing a 20-foot putt after setting up the chance with a wonderful three wood approach shot. He dropped a bogey on the very next hole,but after that there were no more lapses,as he added six more birdies,three on either side of the turn.
Randhawa,a former Asian Tour number one in 2002,reaped the benefits of a new putter where he made 27 putts. Ghei,who last won on the Asian Tour in 2007,had a sensational start,with three birdies and an eagle in first four holes to go five-under after four. He added another birdie on ninth to turn in six-under. But he gave up two shots on the back nine with bogeys on 11th and 18th.