Charl Schwartzel has admitted that playing with long-time friend and Masters runner-up Louis Oosthuizen helped him immensely on his way to a first round 8-under 64 in the Malaysia Open and a one-shot lead.
“Louis is playing so well right that it is impressive to watch and helped me on,” he added.
By his own admission Oosthuizen wasn’t expecting much from the first round, considering the flight from America to Malaysia took 30 hours, but the South African pair defied the odds to shoot two very impressive first rounds.
“It was a long haul getting here,” said Oosthuizen. “I think me and Charl knew the first round, concentration levels won’t be great, but we did well.
“I knew the swing was still good. It was just adapting to the weather and the green speed, but I putted beautifully again today and hope to keep it going for the week.
“I feel like I’m swinging well. I think a lot of times, we’re used to a lot of travel and we adapt quickly. We knew there was always going to be one tough round which is normally the first one and luckily for us, it was early in the morning. We can have a nice rest now.
“We played well. Charl played really well, he could have shot ten or 11 under if he wanted to. It is great to see him play well, it was nice playing together when you’re playing well.”
Schwartzel has the lead on 8-under, but Oosthuizen himself is only two shots behind after a 6-under 66.
“Louis and I got off to a good fast start at the beginning and it is always nice when there are a couple of you in the group playing well and pulling each other a long a bit,” said Schwartzel.
“I felt surprisingly good today. I got a good night’s sleep and woke up this morning before the alarm. The tiredness seems to catch me more in the afternoon than the morning so it felt pretty good. I’ll go back this afternoon and get some rest.
“Hopefully we can do the same again tomorrow. It is a long way to go and there are a lot of birdie opportunities out there but if I can keep playing the way I did today then I should have a chance on Sunday.”
Indian Jeev Milkha Singh is in second place, one shot behind Schwartzel.
Defending champion Matteo Manassero and world No 7 Martin Kaymer both shot 2-under 70s to stay within touching distance of the leaders.
Another Indian golfer Gaurev Ghei was 5-under after four holes thanks to a birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie start, but only managed a 4-under 68 in the end thanks to two bogeys on the back nine.
Jason Knutzon and Jyoti Randhawa are level with Oosthuizen on 6-under.