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Thursday, 21 March 2019
Marcus Fraser  (Getty Images)
Marcus Fraser (Getty Images)

Former champion Marcus Fraser and Spain's Nacho Elvira were the men to catch following a remarkable morning of scoring on day one of the Maybank Championship.

Australian Fraser, who won the tournament's first staging in 2016, and Elvira each carded eight birdies and a single bogey on Thursday to set the early clubhouse target at seven under par.

It had looked as though their efforts would be eclipsed when Angelo Que made nine birdies and no bogeys in his opening 11 holes but the Filipino made back to back double bogeys at the 15th and 16th to fall from the top of the leaderboard.

Que finished his round with a birdie at the 18th to join Thailand's Jazz Janewattananond and Austrian Matthias Schwab in a tie for third a single shot behind the leaders on six under.

Belgian Thomas Pieters was another stroke further back after his opening 67, one ahead of the large group containing four-time Major Champion Ernie Els.

Beginning his opening round at the tenth tee, Elvira made a lightning-quick start, reeling off a hat-trick of birdies at the 11th, 12th and 13th before surrendering his only bogey of the day at the 14th.

But the four-time European Challenge Tour winner bounced back with birdies at the long 18th and first holes before making three more birdies from the third to sign for a 65.

Elvira said: "To be honest seven under is always good. With my record here not being too great, 65 is very good.

"My caddie told me today that I hit 12 fairways. I have been hitting my irons well and putting great, I just needed to put the ball in play. 

"I wasn't able to do that the first few weeks (of the season) but I think I managed to do that in Qatar and also today. 

"I'm happy with the way things are going, happy to be turning around my golf game a little bit. We'll see where that gets me."  

Fraser, also starting at the tenth, birdied the 11th and 13th before dropping a shot at the 14th.

He got it back at the next, though, before closing his front nine with another birdie at the 18th.

After taking advantage of the two par-fives on his back nine - the first and the fifth - Fraser curled in his 20-foot putt at the short seventh to get to six under.

 

And he made another birdie at the eighth to head into the clubhouse on seven under.

Fraser said: "It's been a good day. I played steady all day and putted really well. 

"I've been playing well having a hit at home but I haven't played a whole lot of competitive golf. It was nice to go out and play well in a great tournament."

After his mixed 66, Que said: "I thought I was dreaming when I got to nine under after 11 holes. But these things happen, especially when you play well. 

"You try not to think too much and get ahead of yourself by ignoring it and keep playing. But it sort of plays on your mind too. I got unlucky on 15 where I hit the fairway but didn’t have a shot at the green. I got an unlucky lie and didn’t make up and down. 

"It was the same story on the next hole. These things happen but luckily I still managed to make ten birdies today. Six under is always a good score. I started off with a birdie and ended with a birdie. So that’s nice."

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