SHAH ALAM, Selangor: Australian Andrew Dodt took advantage of a hot start to sign for an opening nine-under-par 63 and grab the clubhouse lead by two shots at the weather-disrupted Bandar Malaysia Open on Thursday.
After two opening birdies, the 34-year-old Dodt added a birdie on the sixth and an eagle-three on seventh to turn in 31. He nailed four more birdies on his way home to take his place atop the leaderboard just before play got suspended at 5.55pm local time due to lightning threats.
Dodt, who endured two missed cuts in his first three starts this season, was thrilled to regain his fine form in Malaysia, where he had sensationally claimed his third Asian Tour victory in Sarawak last August following a two-month injury layoff.
Reigning Asian Development Tour Order of Merit champion Naoki Sekito of Japan closed with three consecutive birdies to sit in second place at the US$1 million event, which is sanctioned by the Asian Tour and in partnership with the Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO).
Thai duo Phachara Khongwatmai and Pavit Tangkamolprasert returned with matching 66s, thanks to their respective front and back-nine 30s, to share third place with Chinese Taipei’s Chang Wei-lun and Bjorn Hellgren of Sweden, who came through the Asian Tour Qualifying School two weeks ago.
Mohammad Wafiyuddin emerged as the best-placed Malaysian after carding a commendable 68 to tie in 13th place at the award-winning Kota Permai Golf & Country Club, which last hosted the storied event in 2008.
A total of 51 players will resume their opening rounds at 7.40am on Friday with the second round slated to start at 7.50am.