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Schwartzel leads after 1st round of Malaysian Open

2011 Masters champion Schwartzel blitzed eight birdies for a one-shot lead at 64

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- Charl Schwartzel of South Africa shot an 8-under 64 on Thursday to take a one-stroke lead after the opening round of the Malaysian Open.

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

Jeev Milkha Singh of India was next. He was followed by 2012 Masters runner-up Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa, India's Jyoti Randhawa and Jason Knutzon of the United States at 6 under.

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," Schwartzel said. "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 was unable to repeat the shot he made in the final round of the Masters, but he did eagle the third hole and made six birdies.

"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 holed an eagle putt on his first hole, the 10th, 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 Matteo Manassero of Italy and 2010 PGA Championship winner Martin Kaymer of Germany, with both shooting 70s.

Photo by HO, Khalid Redza, AFP

By PGATOUR

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