Thursday, 17 April 2014
Lee Westwood  (Getty Images)
Lee Westwood (Getty Images)
Lee Westwood shook off any jetlag to take control of the Maybank Malaysian Open with an opening 65 before play was suspended due to the threat of lightning.

The 40 year old Englishman made the long trip to Kuala Lumpur straight after finishing seventh in the Masters Tournament at the weekend.

Buoyed by recording his best finish of the season, the World Number 36 proved his confidence was not misplaced with a seven under par round to take the clubhouse lead.

"I played well in Houston the week before the Masters and used that momentum going into the Masters," Westwood said. "I played well last week in finishing seventh and I was happy to carry that on today.

"I'm pleased to get off to a good start. It's nice to have a good one and build some momentum for the week."

Starting from the tenth, Westwood's round got off to a slow start with a bogey on the 539 yard par five, but that would be his only dropped shot of the day.

Birdies on the 12th, 14th and 16th took the former World Number One to the turn in 34 and a front nine of 31, including birdies at four of his last five holes, took Westwood to the top of the leaderboard.

"I didn't make the best of starts but fortunately that didn't set the tone for the day," added Westwood, who won the Malaysian Open in 1997 before it became co-sanctioned with the European Tour and Asian Tour and has recorded 12 of his 40 worldwide victories in Asia. "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. I holed one from about eight feet on my 16th, 25 feet on the second-last hole and a nice 15 footer with a bit of curl on the last. So 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. They are still releasing out, which was hard to get your head around."

Ryder Cup team-mate Nicolas Colsaerts was a shot behind after carding eight birdies and two bogeys in his 66, with Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey another stroke back after a 67.

“I’ve felt I’ve played pretty well since early in the season, but there’s always been a stretch of holes where I’ve shot myself in the foot for some reason,” said Belgian Colsaerts.

“I’ve missed good opportunities to have good weeks. So the plan is to come back here to get some momentum and confidence back.”  

South African Jbe Kruger, who won on the Sunshine Tour last week, carded a four under 68 with Scotland's Craig Lee three under after bogeys on his final two holes.

Kruger’s compatriot Garth Mulroy and Thailand’s Pariya Junhasavasdikul were going best at three under when a thunderstorm moved into the area and caused the suspension of play at 15:57 local time.

Play resumed after a delay of one hour and 18 minutes, leaving the later starters unlikely to complete their rounds before darkness. 

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1WESTWOOD, LeeENG18-18
T2WIESBERGER, BerndAUT18-11
T2OOSTHUIZEN, LouisRSA18-11
T2COLSAERTS, NicolasBEL18-11
T5WILLETT, DannyENG18-10
T5KARLBERG, RikardSWE18-10

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