11 October 2018: The CIMB Classic offers a rare promise that has Asian golfers queuing up with hope on their bags. It is the beginning of an Asian swing that now features three events – this one in Malaysia, the CJ Cup in Korea and the HSBC Champions in China. We have four Indians in the field this week – Anirban Lahiri, Shubhankar Sharma, Gaganjeet Bhullar and Rahil Gangjee.
Bronson Burgoon took charge with a scorching nine under 63, with Austin Cook hot on his heels with a. 64 in the first round of the $7mn event.
Anirban Lahiri, flying in on a late entry, courtesy Andrew Landry’s withdrawal, seemed set to make the most of it. He was three under through the first five holes and the putter was clearly on fire.
Unfortunately for the Indian, he struggled from there, including a bruising double bogey at the tenth. In the end he settled for an even 72 that is bound to have left him feeling bitter in the throat, especially after such a wonderful start.
Shubhankar had a patchy forward stretch. He made birdies at the first and fifth, but also conceded bogeys at the second and eighth holes. The 21-year-old made the turn in an even 36 strokes.
But like the storm that engulfed the TPC Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, Shubhankar produced a fiery stretch soon after to climb up the order.
The 116th ranked Indian made five birdies in seven holes from the 10th to end the day in T14, just a stroke behind the octet that rained 66s.
Gaganjeet continued his fine run with a solid 69 on Thursday. The golfer born in Amritsar is currently ranked 134 and is eager to gain access to the PGA TOUR. He started on the tenth hole, nullifying a bogey at the 12th with a timely birdie at the 18th hole.
Bhullar picked up steam after the bend – posting birdies at the 1st, 4th and 8th holes to sign on a steady 69.
Burgoon began his career-best 9-under par round of 63 on the 10th hole. He was 1-over through four, before coasting into the lead with 8 birdies and an eagle over the next 14 holes. Burgoon also went 9-under at the John Deere Classic, shooting a 62 in the process.
The American made only 8 of 14 fairways but reached 17 of 18 greens in regulation in compiling a memorable round. He was T53 in the Safeway Open last week, after finishing 78th in the FedExCup standings last season.
“I drove it well and I putted pretty good, so it was kind of, I mean, it was boring golf, but that’s always a good thing. I chipped in for eagle out of the bunker on my ninth hole, which kind of boosted me, then I kept going. It definitely wasn’t flawless golf, but I’ve been playing pretty good,” said Burgoon.
Rahil Gangjee has rediscovered some old magic with his recent success in the Panasonic Open Golf Championship. He could reconnect with it though here in Kuala Lumpur. The 40-year-old shot five over 77 and left himself at the tail end of the leaderboard.