Kuala Lumpur: Returning to action after a two-week break forced by a back injury, Indian golfer Jeev Milkha Singh shot a creditable two-under 69 to lie tied 19th after the opening round of the USD 6.1 million CIMB Asia Pacific Classic in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.
Australian Robert Allenby grabbed the top spot with a blistering eight-under 63 that matched the course record. This is the only tournament co-sanctioned by the PGA with the Asian Tour.
While Jeev played a steady round with three birdies against one bogey in his 69 to be tied 19th, the other Indian in fray SSP Chowrasia faltered with a four-over 75 that put him 48th in a field of 48.
US Tour players dominated the opening day and Allenby, playing in the morning when conditions were the best, made good use of it.
Allenby sent down eight birdies in a bogey-free round that gave him a one-stroke lead over Jhonattan Vegas (64). Allenby's card was two better than Fredrik Jacobson of Sweden (65).
Among the leading Asian Tour players were Thongchai Jaidee and Mohammed Siddikur, who shot 68 each and were tied 12th.
Asked to sum up his round, Jeev said, "I made one bogey and three birdies. I could have done a lot more. Just a few loose shots out there, otherwise I kept my head on. I'll take a two under especially after a two-week break. My back is still not 100 per cent."
"I need to release the club more as I'm still holding back with the club. I feel as the weeks go by, it'll get better."
Jeev said he had to spend more than the usual time to get ready.
"I got a lot of work done with the physios yesterday and that helped. I think I need more work to maintain or get better with the way it is right now."
He admitted that the course afforded good scores and was not surprised at Allenby shooting a 63.
"The course was there to be taken. It all comes down to good putting, staying hydrated and being focused in this weather. The course is in excellent condition. That was a fantastic round, eight under. Three more days and guys will be very aggressive. With no cut, you'll just go out and make the most out of it," Jeev said.
On the issue of there being no cut in the tournament and whether it changes the strategy, Jeev said, "I basically went out there and followed my process and routine. Where I needed a three wood, I went with a three wood and where I needed a driver, I went with a driver. Under par is very good and I'll try to improve from there."
Asian Tour Order of merit leader, Chowrasia, fresh from a top-10 in the Hero Indian Open, had a tough time. He had just one birdie and had to wait till the par-three 17th hole for it.
He had five bogeys, three on the front nine. Behind Allenby, Vegas and Jacobson, there was a three-way tie for fourth place as Cameron Tringale, Jimmy Walker and Bo Van Pelt all shot 5-under 66s on the par-71 Robert Trent Jones Jr. layout.