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Defending Champ Back on Top

European TourKUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Defending champion Thongchai Jaidee fired an 8-under-par 64 Thursday to grab a three-stroke lead during the first round of the Carlsberg Malaysian Open.
Play was halted for two hours during the round due to a thunderstorm. Forty-five players will return to the course Friday to complete their first rounds. Meanwhile, the tee times for the second round will be delayed by 50 minutes.
Niclas Fasth heads a group of five players tied for second place at 5-under-par 67. He was joined there by Jarrod Moseley, Terry Pilkadaris, Emanuele Canonica and Pelle Edberg.
Jaidee, who aced the 16th hole in the final round last year en route to his win, was hot early in his round. He nearly holed his second shot to the par-4 10th, his first, and kicked in the birdie putt.
He came back at the 11th to convert another birdie opportunity. Jaidee parred 12, but quickly climbed the leaderboard after that. The 34-year-old birdied the par-5 13th and made it two straight when his birdie try at the next found the bottom of the cup.
Jaidee was not done. He drained a birdie on 15 to make it three straight, which moved him to minus-5 on the Palm Course at Saujana Golf & Country Club. The Thai rolled to six consecutive pars around the turn.
At the par-4 fourth, Jaidee cut a dogleg off the tee with his drive and watched as his tee ball stopped 6 feet from the hole. He drained the eagle putt to jump to 7 under. He picked up his final birdie at the par-5 seventh.
'I'm very happy,' said Jaidee. 'Everything was perfect. I hit my driver and irons well and putted nicely. I had a good feeling coming into this week. The drive on four was a great shot. It was definitely my best shot so far this season. I'm feeling good and this is a very good score.'
Fasth also began on the back nine and jumped to minus-2 as he eagled the 13th. He later birdied No. 17 to make the turn at 3 under. The Swede birdied the fourth, but dropped a shot at five. He recovered with birdies on seven and nine to cap his round.
'Last week I played possibly the best golf that I have ever played and to win it in that fashion, I was very proud,' said Fasth, a playoff winner last week at the Holden New Zealand Open. 'But the reality awaits. This is a new week. You're only a winner for a day or two. But coming off a really good week, it's got to be an advantage. You expect to hit a good shot and that's half the battle in this game.'
Pilkadaris ran off three straight birdies from the fourth to move into red figures. He dropped in birdies at 11 and 13 before tripping to a bogey at the 14th. He reclaimed that lost stroke with a birdie at the par-5 18th.
Moseley had an up-and-down opening nine. He birdied 10, but bogeyed the 12th. He picked up another birdie at the 15th, but stumbled to another bogey at the next. The Australian birdied 17 and 18 to make the turn at 2 under. He birdied three of his final six holes to share second place.
Canonica carded a bogey-free round as he spread three birdies over his front nine and two on the back side.
Edberg opened with a bogey at this first hole, the 10th. He picked up birdies at 13 and 15 to make the turn at 1 under. The Swede dropped in four birdies on the front side to join the crowd in second place.
Padraig Harrington, a two-time runner up at this event, was affected greatly by the thunderstorm delay. He was at 4 under before the delay, but returned to the course after the storm and promptly bogeyed three of his final four holes to end at minus-1.
Related Links:
  • TGC Airtimes
  • Leaderboard - Carlsberg Malaysian Open
  • Full Coverage - Carlsberg Malaysian Open