Kuala Lumpur :A jet-lagged Arjun Atwal scrambled to a three-under 68 for a share of the 16th spot after the opening round of the inaugural Asian and PGA Tour co-sanctioned CIMB Asia Pacific Classic golf tournament on Thursday.
Atwal, the first Indian to win on the PGA Tour with his victory at the Wyndham Championship in August, struggled with the effects of jet lag at the Mines Resort and Golf Club.
The Orlando-based golfer, who is the lone Indian in fray here, shot five birdies against two bogeys -- both in the back nine-- in the first ever co-sanctioned tournament by the Asian Tour and PGA Tour which has a purse of USD six million.
"I've played well here before," said Atwal, who triumphed in the Malaysian Open in 2003 and 2008.
"I always enjoy it in Malaysia. On Thursday I didn't enjoy as much. But it's just the first round. My body is not reacting as it normally does because of the jet lag but I should be okay on Friday.
A former Asian Tour number one, the 37-year-old Atwal said the Wyndham triumph has given him the comfort to pick the tournaments he wants to compete in.
"The scheduling becomes easier. I don't have to think about which places I'm going to play. My life is still the same. I can plan to play in tournaments that I like. I like to support India definitely. And also the Asian Tour as this was where I learned to play and make the cuts and stuff like that," he said.
"I've played well this whole year. My scoring average was sixty nine point something which is fourth in America. They don't have them on the tour stats as I didn't meet enough tournaments on the PGA Tour."
He credited his Australian coach Dale Lynch for make the breakthrough win in the US.
"He's been really good for me. I still have a long way to go to get the techniques all down but I'm on the right path. I needed to make a couple of changes to get the swing more consistent. I won't say it's all there but it's gotten better this year," he said.
Atwal believes he can produce multiple victories on the PGA Tour and even win a Major.
"With the PGA Tour win, the next time I'm in contention, it becomes a lot easier. I don't see why I won't win multiple times. I know it's tougher to win the Majors but it's another tournament," he said.
At the top of the leader-board, American Ricky Barnes grabbed the lead with a blemishfree eight-under 63.