Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — Scott Piercy allied some crisp putting to solid tee-to-green play and shot a flawless 10-under 62 on Thursday to take a three-stroke lead after the first round of the PGA Tour’s CIMB Classic.
The American made 10 birdies at the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club to pull away from Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, who had eight birdies and a bogey in his 65.
Piercy’s 10-under score matched the tournament record set by Nick Watney, who had a 61 at the par-71 Mines Resort and Golf Club in 2012.
Jason Gore was tied for third on 66 with American compatriots Keagan Bradley and Charles Howell III plus Germany’s Alex Cejka and Cameron Smith of Australia. Eight players shared eighth place on 67, including last year’s runner up Kevin Na.
Two-time defending champion Ryan Moore was again in contention, tied for seventh with seven others on five-under 67.
Adam Scott was tied for 16th on 68 in a group of 10 players including Padraig Harrington and Scott Brown, who made up for an earlier double bogey by sinking a hole-in-one on the par-3 15th and winning a BMW sports car as reward.
Piercy’s 10-under was his lowest round since a closing 61 at the Phoenix Open two years ago.
The Las Vegas native, who turns 37 next week, started brightly with birdies on the first three holes and also finished well with birdies on 17 and 18.
Piercy began the new PGA season with a tie for 25th at the Shriners Hospitals for Children, and blamed bad putting for disguising a game he otherwise felt “was in a good spot.”
“I made the putts I didn’t last week and got a little lucky as well,” Piercy said.
One of the “lucky” holes was the par-4 13th, where his approach shot dropped ten feet below the green, but he managed to chip in for birdie.
“It was good fortune, a good break and it was nice to see the ball go in,” said Piercy, who has three PGA Tour victories, including the Barbasol Championship in July.
“I only missed three or four greens today so if you got 14 chances, you’re doing pretty good.”
China’s Lin Xi-yu took the lead in the windy Blue Bay LPGA, while Lydia Ko struggled in her first round since regaining the No. 1 spot in the world.
The 19-year-old Lin shot a 5-under 67 in difficult conditions at Jian Lake Blue Bay on Hainan Island, China. She had the lone bogey-free round on a day when only 10 of the 80 players broke par.
Ko opened with a 77, her highest score since a career-worst 80 in high wind last year at Royal Birkdale in the Women’s British Open. She won the LPGA Taiwan by nine strokes Sunday to regain the No. 1 spot in the world from Inbee Park. The 18-year-old New Zealander has a tour-high five victories this season, winning three times her last five starts.
Austin Ernst was second after a 68. Fellow Americans Ryann O’Toole and Jane Park were at 70 along with South Koreans Jenny Shin and Sei Young Kim.
South Africa’s Jaco van Zyl shot an 11-under 61 to take a three-shot lead after the first round of the Turkish Airlines Open.
Van Zyl eagled the par-5 11th hole and had nine birdies at Montgomerie Maxx Royal in Antalya, Turkey. The round doesn’t count as course record because preferred lies were used in the wet conditions.
England’s Lee Westwood was second after a 64.
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy had a 67.
The tournament opens the European Tour’s four-event Finals Series.