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Paisley powers ahead in Malaysia

Chris Paisley of England plays a shot during day one of the 2018 Maybank Championship at Saujana Golf and Country Club on February 1, 2018 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Photo by Stanley Chou/Getty Images)
Chris Paisley of England plays a shot during day one of the 2018 Maybank Championship at Saujana Golf and Country Club on February 1, 2018 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Photo by Stanley Chou/Getty Images)

Chris Paisley continued his stunning start to the 2018 season as he set the clubhouse target on a weather-delayed first day of the Maybank Championship.

The Englishman had five career top fives coming into the new campaign but has added three in as many weeks since the turn of the year, including his maiden European Tour win at the BMW SA Open Proudly hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni.

The 31 year old carded a bogey-free 65 to move him to seven under at Saujana Golf & Country Club, one shot clear of fellow countryman David Horsey, who had been right in contention at last week’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic, and has brought that good form to Malaysia as he set the early pace.

Another Englishman in Andrew Johnston, last year’s runner-up David Lipksy, India’s Arjun Atwal, South Korean Soomin Lee and French duo Alexander Levy and Romain Wattel all managed to get their rounds finished as they signed for 67s but many of the second wave were not so lucky.

Play was suspended at 3.40pm due to the threat of storms and an hour and 50 minutes was lost, meaning 40 players will have to complete their rounds on Friday.

Among those was Mike Lorenzo-Vera, the Frenchman siting six under with two holes to complete after an eagle on the fifth, birdies on the 11th, 14th, first, second and seventh, and a single bogey on the 12th.

There was then a group of 15 players at four under including defending champion Fabrizio Zanotti, Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjørn, and local favourite Gavin Green.

Meanwhile Australian Todd Sinnott made the fourth hole-in-one of the season as he aced the fourth from 195 yards with a seven iron.

Player quotes

Chris Paisley

“It was great and nice to keep the form going. I just played really solid, hit it well off the tee so gave myself a lot of wedges and short irons into the greens which were really good and gave myself a lot of birdie chances, couldn’t have gone better.

“That’s the hardest part, it’s very hot and not much wind, so scoring wise it is quite easy but to keep your focus is quite difficult with how tiring the heat is but it is good fun.

“I was pretty much in the fairway every hole and just felt like I had a lot of 100-yard to 140-yard shots, which is generally my strength, and hit a few stiff and lots to within ten feet so managed to hole a few putts as well.

“Really happy. I’ve been playing really well so nice to keep it going.”

David Horsey

“It was nice to be out first this morning with the heat, it was a little bit cooler for the first nine holes and obviously got a bit hotter since with no cloud cover so its tough out there, best of the greens as well so very pleased.

“I hit a good tee shot and wedge thinking it wasn’t probably going to quite fly as far as it did at that time of day and it turned out it did, over the back and made bogey, but followed that up with birdie birdie eagle to get my round going.

Andrew Johnston

“I drove the ball well, I was happy with how I played. I think you have to put it in place and be sensible where you try and hit it, sometimes you have to get aggressive.

“I pulled the driver out on a couple of holes you can get near the green, that’s the way I tried to play it, just aggressive and stay positive and it was a good day.

Romain Wattel

“Today was good, I tried to make the best score I could and five-under-par is a good score to have on this course. Last year I struggled a little bit with the first round so I am very happy with how much better I did this time.

“The key is to get the ball on the fairway so you have a mid-iron shot left for an easier approach. It was nice to play in the morning, it is getting really hot right now and it’s tough for everyone out there.”

“It was fairly easy in the morning but the wind picked up in the afternoon and got a little trickier. I’m pretty happy with my round and I just want to keep it going for the next few days.”