KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s No. 1 golfer Gavin Kyle Green could not have asked for a better start at the inaugural US$9.25mil (RM39mil) CJ Cup in Jeju, South Korea.
The 23-year-old rode on a hot putter to card a six-under 66, three shots off leader Justin Thomas after yesterday’s first round at the Nine Bridges Golf Club in Jeju Island.
His seven birdies and a bogey round put him in a five-way tie for second with American trio of Chez Reavie, Scott Brown and Patrick Reed and Australian Marc Leish-man, all winners on the US PGA Tour.
A change of putter seemed to have done the trick after he was struggling to make putts at last week’s CIMB Classic.
“It behaved today, thankfully. So far it’s working,” said Gavin, who currently leads the Asian Tour Order of Merit.
“It was tough last week. I can say it was very frustrating, I didn’t make many putts.
“Today I played real decent. This week obviously a lot of pressure is off.
“I’m just trying to enjoy myself here.”
Starting from the 10th, Gavin birdied five of the last seven holes in the first nine and picked up another after the turn.
He dropped his only shot at the par-three second hole but made amends with a birdie on the sixth.
Thomas, who failed in his three-peat bid at the CIMB Classic, set the early pace with a nine-under 63 powered by two eagles on his front nine.
At the Macau Open, Danny Chia also enjoyed a good start when he shot a two-under 69 to be joint 13th with 11 others including compatriot Arie Irawan Fauzi in the opening day.
Nicholas Fung signed for a 72 for a share of 47th while Ben Leong, who finished tied 24th last year, is in danger of missing the cut with a 75 for tied 98th in the 144-man field event.
Korean duo Kim Gi-hwan and Chang Yi-keun and India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar shared the lead with a seven-under 64.