Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel leads in Malaysia

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Charl Schwartzel shot 8-under-par 64 on Thursday to take a one-stroke lead after the opening round of the Malaysian Open.

The 2011 Masters Tournament champion birdied five holes on the front nine and four on the back.

Jeev Milkha Singh was next. He was followed by 2012 Masters runner-up Louis Oosthuizen, Jyoti Randhawa and Jason Knutzon at 66.

Having traveled 30 hours to reach Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club after playing at Augusta, Schwartzel and Oosthuizen played together but neither expected to dominate in such style. Between them, they made 15 birdies and an eagle.

“Louis and I got off to a fast start,” said Schwartzel, who tied for 50th last week in his Masters defense, shooting 72-75-75-74. “And it is always nice when there are a couple of you together in the group playing well and pulling each other along a bit. Louis is playing so well right now. It’s impressive to watch and pulled me along.”

Oosthuizen had six birdies and an eagle.

“This morning, I felt quite good. I knew the swing was still good,” said Oosthuizen, who lost the Masters in a playoff to Bubba Watson. “It was just adapting to the weather and the green speed. But I putted beautifully again today and hope to keep it going for the week.”

With his wife and two young children in Malaysia on vacation, Oosthuizen was happy to be able to rest after his long trip.

“I got a good night’s rest,” he said. “Because although the kids were up all night, she said to me: ‘Get some rest and I will look after them.’ But I feel like I am swinging the club well, and a lot of the time we are used to travel and adapt quickly.”

Singh made an eagle putt on his first hole, the 10th on the course, after the three-time European Tour winner hit a 3-wood to within 20 feet.

“I had a lot of birdie chances,” Singh said. “I hit a lot of greens and my shots were close to the flags. I made a lot of putts, too. I would take a round like that on this golf course any day.”

There were slow starts for defending champion, teenager Matteo Manassero and 2010 PGA Championship winner Martin Kaymer, with both shooting
70s.

NATIONWIDE TOUR: In Hayward, Calif., former Clemson golfer Ben Martin shot 5-under-par 65 to take the first-round lead in the weather-delayed TPC Stonebrae Championship.

Martin has a one-shot lead over Josh Broadway, Michael Putnam and Brian Stuard.

Aiken native Matt Hendrix had 72 and Augusta’s Scott Parel shot 74.

CLARKE’S WEDDING: British Open champion Darren Clarke has married his fiancee, Alison Campbell, in a small beach wedding in the Bahamas.

The 43-year-old Northern Irishman made the announcement on his Web site, revealing that former U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell – who introduced the couple to each other through a blind date – was present at the ceremony along with members of Clarke’s family and agent Chubby Chandler.


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