Scorching start from Graeme McDowell

Graeme McDowell downed more than six litres of water as he seeks to end a seven-year victory drought in Asia.

Scorching start from Graeme McDowell

McDowell battled his way through the sauna-like conditions to be tied for the lead with defending champion, Lee Westwood with a six under par 66 on day one of the Maybank Malaysian Open.

“It was pretty hot out there but I am very happy as I hit the ball great today, drove it well and gave myself a lot of birdie chances,” he said.

“I only had one mistake and that was from the middle of the fairway when I lost my concentration at the second. Aside from that, I was genuinely very, very happy with that start.”

McDowell hasn’t contested a Malaysian Open since 2008 while he’s had one victory on Asian soil and that was capturing the inaugural 2008 Ballantine’s Championship at Jeju Island in South Korea.

And after a solid start to his new year a week ago in Dubai, McDowell put himself in frame to win earlier in a new season than at any other time of his 13-year pro career.

“You can see from past winners on this golf course like Lee Westwood, Thongchai Jaidee and Ryan Moore, who won the PGA Tour event, that they are good all-round players,” said McDowell. “And I think that when I am on my game I am one of those guys, as well.

“So it’s a good start with a lot of good players already high up on the leaderboard.”

And McDowell continues to impress with stand-in and former caddy, Matt Harbour on the bag.

Victorious Gleneagles Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley kick-started his 24th pro season with a three under par 69.

McGinley, who had undergone knee surgery in the off-season, bogeyed his first and final holes but turned on the fireworks in a seven hole stretch from his eighth to 14th hole with five birdies, including three in succession from his 10th.

“To be honest, I didn’t play that well as I struggled with my swing so I am delighted to finish three under par,” he said.

“I started with a bogey and finished with a bogey so to shoot five under in between was very pleasing.

“I played nicely around the middle of my round but faded at the end in missing three greens in regulation.

“The good news is my knee was okay today. This is only my fourth game in three months since November but then I haven’t put the work in, and in this game you have to put the work in.”

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