Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Scott Piercy leads PGA Tour event in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Scott Piercy allied some crisp putting with 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 Hideki Matsuyama, who had eight birdies and a bogey in his 65.

Piercy's 10 under matched the tournament record set by Nick Watney, who had 61 at the par-71 Mines Resort and Golf Club in 2012. It was Piercy's lowest round since a closing 61 at the Phoenix Open two years ago.

In a group of five at 66 were Keagan Bradley and Charles Howell III. Eight players were at 67, including last year's runnerup, Kevin Na. Two-time defending champion Ryan Moore was with seven others at 67. Adam Scott was in a group of 10 at 68 that included Scott Brown, who had a hole-in-one on the par-3 15th and won a BMW sports car.

Piercy began the new PGA season with a tie for 25th at the Shriners Hospitals for Children on Sunday, and he 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," he said.

One of the "lucky" holes was the par-4 13th, where his approach shot dropped 10 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 tour victories, including the Barbasol Championship in July.

EUROPEAN: Jaco van Zyl made nine birdies and an eagle for 11-under 61 to take a three-shot lead after the first round of the Turkish Airlines Open, the first of the tour's four-event Final Series.

Lee Westwood was second at Antalya, Turkey, after a bogey-free 64, his lowest score in more than a year. "It's stuff I've worked on before but just a slightly different idea to give myself the same feeling as I got when I was playing well," said Westwood, 42. "I'm no spring chicken anymore."

Rory McIlroy made four birdies on his back nine and was in a group of seven at 67.

"I feel like my game came together a lot more on the back nine," he said. "I was trying to find my rhythm for the first few holes and made a good par save on 18, which gave me some momentum going into the back nine."

LPGA: China's Lin Xi-yu took the lead in the windy Blue Bay LPGA with 5-under 67, and Lydia Ko struggled to 77 at Hainan Island, China, in her first round since regaining the No. 1 world ranking. Ko shot her highest score since a career-worst 80 in high wind last year at Royal Birkdale in the Women's British Open. Austin Ernst (68) was second. Seminole's Brittany Lincicome shot 78.