Danny Willett one shot off Maybank Championship Malaysia lead

Danny Willett one shot off Maybank Championship Malaysia lead
Danny Willett carded a six-under-par 65.

Danny Willett made the most of some good fortune to enjoy an ideal start in his bid for back-to-back victories in the inaugural Maybank Championship Malaysia on Thursday.

Willett was one over par after seven holes of his opening round in Kuala Lumpur, but birdied the eighth and ninth before coming home in 31 to card a six-under-par 65 and lie one shot behind clubhouse leader Nathan Holman.

The world number 13 chipped in for an eagle on the 13th, holed from 45 feet for birdie on the next and picked up another shot on the par-five 15th, before ending his round in style with another long birdie putt on the last, which slammed into the back of the hole before dropping.

Willett admitted on Twitter his last 11 holes were "outrageous" and added on Sky Sports: "It's a strange old game. We hit it close a lot on the front nine and made nothing until eight and nine.

"And then we've hit it a bit scabby down the last, took advantage of the par fives and holed two really long ones. It kind of goes in circles. You miss a few short ones and then you don't expect to hole a long one like that (on 18), especially going at that pace, but I'll take it."

Asked about trying to win a fifth European Tour title just a fortnight after victory in the Dubai Desert Classic, Willett added: "We're doing all the right things. The work that we're doing is the same, week in week out.

"The warm-ups and workouts are all the same so I am trying to keep the feelings as similar as possible but it's a stupid game isn't it?

"You can play well and shoot millions or you can scab it a bit and shoot a good score. Fortunately a few things went our way today so hopefully we can keep riding that wave and see what comes."

Holman also has a European Tour victory to his credit this season, the 24-year-old from Melbourne claiming a maiden win on home soil in the Australian PGA Championship in December.

And after top-40 finishes in Qatar and Dubai, Holman carried on where he left off at Royal Selangor with a flawless 64 containing seven birdies.

"I just played really well to be honest," Holman said. "Every part of my game was quite good and I was saying a few weeks ago that my game has been trending in that right direction so it was nice to get a really good one in."

England's Tommy Fleetwood, American Peter Uihlein, Spain's Jorge Campillo, France's Alexander Levy and Angelo Que of the Philippines were alongside Willett on six under, with former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen two shots further back. Two-time major winner Martin Kaymer had to settle for a level-par 71.

Uihlein had to retire from his last event with a wrist injury but started his round with four birdies and an eagle in the first seven holes before a bogey on the 17th slowed his charge.

"It still hurts a little bit, I tore the tendon and eventually they're going to have to cut the wrist open, which isn't great," Uihlein said. "But at least it should hopefully cure it.

"For the meantime, I just have to strap it up and try to protect it as best I can. I've been having cortisone injections to ease the pain and I've been told I can't do any more damage by playing, so there's no reason to stop."

England's David Horsey will also go under the knife after withdrawing following nine holes of his opening round with a knee problem.

"Disappointed to have to withdraw from @maybankchampio1," the 30-year-old wrote on Twitter. "Shooting pains up my lower back made it impossible to continue.

"Now having a knee op on my R lateral meniscus on Tue, which puts me out until Spanish Open. Hope to be back fitter and stronger by then."

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