Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Australian Marcus Fraser and Spaniard Nacho Elvira fired matching 65s in hot and humid conditions Thursday to share the joint lead on the opening day of the Maybank Championship.
The pair hold a one shot advantage over the following trio of Jazz Janewattananond, Angelo Que and Matthias Schwab at the Saujana Golf and Country Club in Kuala Lumpur.
Big-hitting Belgian Thomas Pieters was lurking two strokes behind on 67, while four-time Major winner Ernie Els finished the day on 68.
Former champion Fraser, who clinched the inaugural edition in 2016, fired eight birdies including an amazing 20-foot putt at the par-3 seventh hole to share the lead.
"I'm definitely a part-time golfer these days. It's nice to go out on the golf course and it doesn't mean as much as it used to," he said.
"I was more surprised than anyone going out there and shooting seven-under," Fraser added.
Elvira kept pace with Fraser thanks to a good start which included four birdies in his first eight holes.
"I'm happy with the way things are going, happy to be turning around my golf game a little bit," Elvira said.
Que was heading for the top the leaderboard after an impressive nine birdies in his first 11 holes, but consecutive double bogeys on holes 15 and 16 derailed his advantage.
"I thought I was dreaming when I got to nine-under after 11 holes. But these things happen especially when you play well," he said.
Defending champion Shubhankar Sharma finished the day on tied-41st after only managing a one-under-par 71.
Padraig Harrington, making a first appearance this year after his nomination as new Ryder Cup captain, finished tied-26th with a 70.
The 156 players competing are expected to brace themselves for unpredictable weather conditions on Friday, when scorching conditions and light rain are forecast.
The $3 million event is co-sanctioned by the European nd Asian tours.