India's Jyoti Randhawa was nine-under-par at 63 yesterday, taking a four-stroke lead after the first round of the Masters of Asia golf championship.
Randhawa, Asia's top golfer in 2002 but winless this year, made nine birdies at the Kota Permai Golf and Country Club for the best round in his career.
Countryman Jeev Milkha Singh carded a 67 for second place, while China's Liang Wenchong, Korea's Lee Sung-man, Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand, England's Simon Dyson and Craig Kamps of South Africa were joint third with 68.
In the race for top spot in the Asian Tour Order of Merit, current money leader Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand and Simon Yates of Scotland were embroiled in thrilling race, both carding 70 for fifth spot in the final tournament of the tour.
"I played great. I didn't miss any greens and putted nicely. My mental focus was good. I didn't hit a bad shot today, it was almost perfect golf," said Randhawa who emerged third in last year's Masters of Asia in Bangkok.
Equally elated was Singh who was strong on the back nine, romping home in 32.
Singh, who has not won in Asia since 1999, said his opening round score showed he was regaining form after a series of disappointments in the past two years.
"The last two years have been a struggle. I've been in contention only once this year so it is a goal to be in the frame again this week," Singh said.
Thongchai was disappointed with his opening score, which only yielded four birdies.
"I played nicely but just couldn't make any putts. I took 30 putts on the greens today and that's too many," Thongchai said.