Thursday, 21 March 2019
Matthias Schwab  (Getty Images)
Matthias Schwab (Getty Images)

Matthias Schwab was pleasantly surprised after opening his Maybank Championship account with a 66 on Thursday.

The Austrian, making his first appearance at Saujana Golf and Country Club this week, carded seven birdies and a solitary bogey on day one to sit a single stroke behind co-leaders Marcus Fraser and Nacho Elvira.

On a morning of low scoring, Schwab recovered from a bogey at the tenth - his first - with birdies on the 13th, 14th and 17th to avoid falling too far behind the early pace-setters.

The 24-year-old then picked up four more shots on his back nine to finish the day on six under par.

Schwab has made a bright start to the 2019 Race to Dubai season, recording top 25 finishes at the Honma Hong Kong Open presented by Amundi, Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA and the Saudi International powered by SBIA.

And he was pleased with his first round effort in Malaysia.

"I went into the day not expecting a whole lot, just going shot by shot and it turned out to be a 66, which I am happy about," he said.

"I got really blown away by the wind in Oman. In Qatar I made some improvements, but nothing special. Today it was an easy day, you're always happy when that happens.

"It's my first time here, the greens are really good, a little bit grainy, quite firm - it's easier to hit approach shots from the fairway. 

"I've had an OK start to my season. I'll keep trying to improve and hopefully I'll be able to continue playing well this year."

European Ryder Cup Captain Padraig Harrington posted a first round 70 on his return from a wrist injury.

The Irishman was making his first appearance of the 2019 Race to Dubai campaign after a four month lay-off, and he was pleased with his day's work.

He said: "It's been four months since I played a competitive round. I'm pleased. I didn't hit it very well, especially off the tee, so it's a really good score.

"I could have made a few more putts but I holed a couple early in my round to keep a bit of momentum. I could have easily slipped two or three over par early on. I kept it together on the back nine, used my head well and got a reasonable score out of it.

"The wrist is OK, struggling a bit with the thumb and the little finger. When you put it in a cast for six weeks it's amazing how much peripheral stuff goes on.

"Trying to get all the different muscles, ligaments strengthened up and working. I certainly didn't think about it out there, which is great.

"There is substantial difference between playing a practice round and playing with a card in your hand. I really struggled with my swing but I haven't forgotten how to play golf.

"I managed my way around the golf course. I worked hard for the score. Overall 70 is a well worked score.

"I actually really enjoyed my day. I wish I was like that every day. Four months off, I was buzzing out there, really enjoying the battle of getting it done."

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