England’s Lee Westwood made a strong start in his title defense at the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters yesterday with a round of seven-under 65.
The world No. 3 opened up a two-shot lead at the majestic Royale Jakarta Golf Club over highly rated Arnond Vongvanij of Thailand.
A rejuvenated Westwood, 38, who took a week’s break after his third-place finish at the US Masters, birdied the opening three holes, and added three birdies and one bogey on his homeward nine.
“I had a break last week and hardly hit any balls,” he was quoted as saying in a press release from the Asian Tour. “I played a lot of golf earlier this year and needed a rest. It was good to go home and recharge my batteries because the Masters always takes a lot out of you. It is physically and mentally very demanding.”
Westwood, who held the world No. 1 spot after victory at the Indonesia tournament last year, was caught off guard at the 14th hole where he dropped his second bogey on what was a wind-swept day.
“This is quite a tricky test because the greens are very undulating. You got to have your A-game with you,” he said. “[The wind direction] changed on 14 and it caught me by surprise and ended up with a bogey where I three-putted.”
Asian Tour rookie Arnond, who has two top-10 finishes this year, credited his straight shooting game for his strong card.
Veteran Boonchu Ruangkit of Thailand, former Asian Tour No. 1 Jyoti Randhawa and Shiv Kapur of India, Lee Sung of South Korea, Zaw Moe of Myanmar and Sam Cyr of the US were bunched up in third place on 68.
The top three Taiwanese players were Chiang Chen-chih, Lu Wei-chih and Kao Shang-hung, after they shot even-par 72s.
Additional reporting by staff writer
AP, TIANJIN, CHINA
Matthew Baldwin of England took advantage of calm early conditions to shoot a seven-under 65 yesterday and lead by one stroke after the first round of the China Open.
Baldwin, who graduated from Europe’s second-tier Challenge Tour last year, said he was also helped by the tee and flag placements.
Joost Luiten of the Netherlands, Gary Boyd of England, Scott Strange of Australia, Jean Baptiste Gonnet of France, Fredrik Andersson Hed of Sweden and Jbe Kruger of South Africa are next.
Of those, only Kruger played after lunchtime when a strong wind started to blow across the flat and exposed Binhai Lake course near Beijing.
Former European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie shot a 68 for his best round this year — and it would have been lower had he not three-putted on his last hole of the day. However, the eight-time European money list winner was not downhearted.
“I have been working very hard on my game because you have to say that I had lost my game completely,” Montgomerie said. “It feels better and it seems to be coming back.”
Defending champion Nicolas Colsearts of Belgium and Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark are at four-under.
There was no fairytale start for Guan Tianlang of China, who at 13 years, 173 days made history by becoming the youngest player at a European Tour event.
Playing when the wind was at its highest, Guan started with a bogey and was five-over after six holes.
However, he finished the last 12 holes in level-par to shoot a 77.