JAKARTA: England’s Lee Westwood made a strong start in his title defense at the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters Thursday with a round of seven-under-par 65.
The world No. 3 opened up a two-shot lead at the majestic Royale Jakarta Golf Club over highly rated Arnond Vongvanij of Thailand.
A rejuvenated Westwood, 38, who took a week’s break after his third place finish at the U.S. Masters, birdied the opening three holes and added three birdies and one bogey on his homeward nine.
“I had a break last week and hardly hit any balls,” he was quoted as saying in a press release from the Asian Tour.
“I played a lot of golf earlier this year and needed a rest. It was good to go home and recharge my batteries because the Masters always takes a lot out of you. It is physically and mentally very demanding.”
Westwood, who held the world No. 1 spot after victory at the Indonesia tournament last year, was caught off guard at the 14th hole where he dropped his second bogey on what was a wind-swept day.
“This is quite a tricky test because the greens are very undulating. You got to have your A-Game with you,” he said. “[The wind direction] changed on 14 and it caught me by surprise and ended up with a bogey where I three putted.”
Asian Tour rookie Arnond, who has two top-10 finishes this year, credited his straight shooting game for his strong card.
“I’m happy but not surprised. I feel that my game in the last couple of weeks have been really close to where I want it. I hit my driver fairly straight and didn’t get into too much trouble,” said the 23-year-old.
Veteran Boonchu Ruangkit of Thailand, former Asian Tour No. 1 Jyoti Randhawa and Shiv Kapur of India, Lee Sung of Korea, Zaw Moe of Myanmar and Sam Cyr of the U.S. were bunched up in third place on 68.