KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Ryan Moore had 10 birdies in a nearly blemish-free round to shoot a 9-under 63 and take a two-stroke lead after the opening round of the CIMB Classic on Thursday.
The American was coming off a top-10 finish at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open last weekend and surged into the lead with a 25-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole. He capped the round with another birdie on the 18th after sticking his approach within inches of the hole.
The $7 million tournament at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club was included on the U.S. PGA Tour's new wraparound season this year, marking the first time the Tour has offered full FedEx Cup points at a tournament in Asia.
This has helped attract a top field, including British Open champion Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Bubba Watson and defending champion Nick Watney. Tiger Woods, who tied for fourth place last year, is skipping the Malaysian event.
Mickelson, however, started the wraparound season on the wrong note.
Playing for the first time since the Presidents Cup, he had two errant drives off the tee – one into waist-high foliage, the other into the water – that led to double-bogeys and an overall score of 1-under 71.
''I'm swinging awful. I'm swinging terribly at the ball,'' Mickelson said. ''The lead for me right now is irrelevant. It's so far off that that's the last thing on my mind because I just don't know where the ball is going.''
It was also a tough day for Watney, who was paired with Mickelson in one of the last groups on the course. Watney started the day with two bogeys on his first three holes and never fully recovered, ending up in a share of 65th place at 3 over.
''Pretty much everything went wrong. I putted terribly, didn't drive the ball into the fairway enough,'' he said. ''I'm disappointed, especially coming this far to play poorly.''