Anirban Lahiri got off to a modest start, fumbling with a three-bogey stretch on the back nine to finish with a two-over 74 in the opening round of the USD 7 million CIMB Classic here on Thursday.
The 27-year-old Lahiri was going fine at one-under through 11 holes with two birdies and one bogey when he hit a rough patch with three bogeys in a row from 12th to the 14th.
However, Lahiri did not allow the round to deteriorate further as he parred the remaining four holes to live and fight another day as he was tied at 54th.
Interestingly, also at tied 54th was David Lipsky, the man Lahiri is chasing in the race for the Asian Tour Order of Merit. Major winners Retief Goosen, Charl Schwartzel, Jason Dufner and Trevor Immelman were also tied 54th.
Sweden's Rikard Karlberg surged into a two-shot first round lead after a bogey-free seven-under-par 65.
The 27-year-old became the first Asian Tour player to hold the lead in the five-year history of the prestigious tournament, thanks to an outward 31 which included a chip-in birdie on the eighth hole at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club's West course.
Angelo Que of the Philippines, who is a three-time Asian Tour winner, American duo Billy Hurley III and Brian Stuard are tied second in the event sanctioned by the PGA Tour and Asian Tour.
Defending champion Ryan Moore of the United States birdied his last four holes for a 68 for a share of fifth place with Prom Meesawat of Thailand, Major champion Davis Love III and former Asian Tour number one Noh Seung-yul of Korea, who was victorious at the West course in 2010.
"My putting was great after a hot start and then it was a little bit so-so," said Karlberg, who is a two-time Asian Tour winner. "I did an important par on 13 and kept my round going and it was nice to finish with those two extra ones (17 and 18) at the end."
After struggling with a virus infection for over a year, the 2010 Asian Tour rookie of the year knows he must dig deep to stay ahead of the pack for a chance of winning his biggest career victory.
The flamboyant Que, one of the most colourful characters on Tour, continued his hot form in a round that included seven birdies. The Filipino qualified for the CIMB Classic after finishing second at the Hong Kong Open a fortnight ago.
Starting from the 10th hole, title holder Moore was level-par through 14 holes but was rewarded for his patience when he ended day one with four birdies including a 25-footer on the ninth green.
Love turned back the clock after a round of four birdies and two bogeys. His highlight of the day was a twenty-footer eagle on the par five 10th hole.