Thursday, March 21, 2013
Donald struggles in Malaysia, Kiradech takes clubhouse lead
(Reuters) - Luke Donald's Malaysian Open debut got off to a feeble start on Thursday with the world number three, the biggest name in the $2.75 million European Tour event, carding an opening round two-over-par 74 in Kuala Lumpur.
The Briton arrived from the U.S. on Tuesday morning following his tied fourth place finish in last week's Tampa Bay Championship and playing his back nine first, struggled in the heat at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
Donald parred his first hole before a hat-trick of bogeys put him on the back foot at the co-sanctioned Asian Tour event.
A seven-time winner in Europe, he responded with three birdies on the front nine but could not keep the stretch blemish-free, dropping two shots on the par-four second.
Frenchman Gregory Bourdy birdied five of his first seven holes en route to a six-under-par 66 to set a blistering early pace before Italy's Edoardo Molinari and Dane Anders Hansen came up with matching rounds.
Big-hitting Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat bettered them all, sinking four birdies on each nine in his round of seven-under-par 65 to grab the clubhouse lead.
That too despite suffering from a thyroid disease which necessitated holding back from blasting his tee shots to preserve energy.
"The weather is too hot and the thyroid disease is making me feel tired," said the 23-year-old Thai seeking his maiden European Tour victory.
"Honestly, I didn't have enough energy to hit long drives. I'm still taking medication for my thyroid condition and I'll consider going for operation when I consult my doctor in six months," Kiradech told reporters.
Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington made a strong start with a three-under-par 69.
(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Patrick Johnston)