In-form Paisley seizes clubhouse lead

Chris Paisley ©Asian Tour

Shah Alam [SELANGOR]: England’s Chris Paisley seized the clubhouse lead at the weather-disrupted US$3 million Maybank Championship on Thursday as Malaysia’s Gavin Kyle Green stayed very much in the hunt.

The 31-year-old Paisley fired a bogey-free seven-under-par 65 at the Saujana Golf and Country Club to continue his fine form where he won and finished fifth twice in his last three European Tour events in 2018.

The Englishman carded seven birdies to hold a one-shot advantage over countryman David Horsey while Frenchman Mike Lorenzo-Vera was six-under with two holes to play before fading light forced officials to stop play at 7.30 pm local time. The event was suspended earlier by 1 hour and 50 minutes due to lightning.

India’s Arjun Atwal, who is aiming for a third victory in Malaysia, last year’s runner-up and 2014 Asian Tour number one David Lipsky of the United States, Andrew Johnston of England, Korea’s rising star Soomin Lee and Frenchmen Romain Wattel and Alexander Levy were a further two shots back of Paisley.

Malaysia’s best performer was Green – the reigning Asian number one taking advantage of a hot start to sign for a flawless four-under 68. Also impressive were Wafiyuddin Manaf and Ben Leong, who returned matching 69s.

Paisley won the South African Open in January and followed up on that victory by finishing tied fifth and fifth in Abu Dhabi and Dubai respectively.

“It was great and nice to keep the form going. I just played really solid, hit it well off the tee so gave myself a lot of wedges and short irons into the greens which were really good and gave myself a lot of birdie chances, couldn’t have gone better.”

The Englishman, ranked fourth currently in the Race to Dubai, started on the 10th tee and made the turn in 32. He returned with seven birdies thanks to his sharp-shooting game where he hit 17 out of 18 greens in regulation.

“That’s the hardest part, it’s very hot and not much wind, so scoring wise it is quite easy but to keep your focus is quite difficult with how tiring the heat is but it is good fun.

“I was pretty much in the fairway every hole and just felt like I had a lot of 100-yard to 140-yard shots, which is generally my strength, and hit a few stiff and lots to within ten feet so managed to hole a few putts as well,” he added.

A total of 40 players will return at 7.50am on Friday to complete round one. The morning round two tee times are delayed by 10 minutes but the afternoon tee times will remain unchanged.