Kuala Lumpur: Luke Donald’s Malaysian Open debut got off to a feeble start on Thursday with the world No. 3, the biggest name in the $2.75 million European Tour event, carding an opening round two-over-par 74 in Kuala Lumpur.
Big-hitting Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat, battling a thyroid problem, sank four birdies on each nine for a seven-under-par 65 to grab the lead before lightning forced an early end to play.
Donald arrived from the US on Tuesday morning following his tied fourth place finish in last week’s Tampa Bay Championship and playing his back nine first, struggled in the heat at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
Jeev Milkha Singh, meanwhile, was lying 15th after dropping a bogey on the ninth hole for a three-under, when play was suspended due to rain in the first round.
Only three of the nine Indians had finished their first round with Shiv Kapur and Digvijay Singh returning even par 72 each and Anirban Lahiri carding a disappointing 74 including three bogeys on the back nine.
Gaganjeet Bhullar and Jyoti Randhawa were one-under through nine and eight holes respectively, while Himmat Rai was one-over after seven.
C Muniyappa, playing on a medical exemption, was six-over after nine, and SSP Chowrasia was seven-over after 11.
Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington made a strong start with a three-under-par 69 while Frenchman Gregory Bourdy birdied five of his first seven holes en route to a six-under-par 66.